Goodreads Description: Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.
Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.
Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…
I decided to listen to this on audio since it was available immediately and I needed something new to read for Pride month. I’m really glad that I decided to pick this one up as I loved it from the first 5 minutes of the story. This book tackles a range of important subjects and the intersection of those topics. It discusses racism, queer identity, and HIV status.
I like how this book handles the topic of HIV and how this book doesn’t dismiss this topic. While this is a lighthearted book it doesn’t dismiss the reality of being HIV positive which is something that I enjoyed. This is a story that shows that HIV+ teenagers can lead happy lives and fulfilling lives without worrying about being treated in a poor matter due to their status. I think that it is important to show these types of stories and show that there is more than one narrative for HIV+ people.
I really enjoy the way this book shows Simone struggling with her queer identity and everything that she feels the need to hide from others. I thought that the way that this was portrayed was done quite well. I like how she thinks about her sexuality and how she doesn’t like not knowing how to define herself. I like how you see her support her friends and being so happy that they have a place that they belong in but wishes that she had the same thing for herself.
I love the complexity they show behind Simone deciding that she is bisexual. I kept having to stop the book and cry because so many of her thoughts around sexuality are thoughts I’ve had recently. I really enjoyed her wondering what it meant to be bisexual and being upset that she even had to decide how she identifies. I connected with her so much around the thoughts on her sexuality and figuring out how to define your sexual
I like the way this book openly talks about sex and sexuality, it doesn’t skirt around the topic or make it something that is taboo to talk about. I love how much is in here that can educate teenagers about safe sex and more. There is so much that isn’t taught in a high school health class and it includes things about queer sex.
Something else this book touches on is racism with Miles having an all white friend group as those are his team mates. I like how Simone reacts about their comments and how she is holding Miles accountable for not calling out his friends. I like the conversation that happens between Miles and Simone about their Black identity and what that means for the both of them. Its important how the discussion points out how they view their Blackness differently and how that contributes to the way they interact with others.
I love each of the characters that you get to meet throughout this book. There is an abundance of LGBTQ+ representation which is something that I look for in everything that I read. As the main character you get a bisexual MC, and Simone is surrounded by plenty of queer people. She has two dads, a asexual lesbian as a best friend and her other best friend is also bisexual. It is due to her being surrounded by all of these queer people that Simone feels that she can’t call herself bisexual if she’s only crushed on female celebrities and one girl.
There are so many layers to Simone beyond her being HIV+ and that is something that I love. While her HIV status plays a large role in the way she lives her life and interacts with others it isn’t all that we know about her. I love that they include her love for musicals and her involvement with that group alongside her involvement with the support group for HIV+ teens.
Writing Style and Narrator
Simone is written in the voice of a teenager which is great, the tension of her figuring out her identity is intermixed with the lightness of her living her life. I like how you get to hear all of Simone’s inner thoughts as she processes so many different things.
When listening to an audiobook the narrator is very important to me as they can make listening to something great or bad. The narrator of this book is great and helps to tell Simon’s story and immerse you into the book.