Review by: Ivy
“I hope this is just something that happens in high school, in buildings full of kids who haven’t experienced much outside of themselves. I hope it gets better. But I don’t know.”Full Disclosure, Camryn Garrett
Simone Garcia-Hampton has lived with HIV her whole life and is perfectly healthy as long as she takes her meds, which leaves plenty of time for directing musicals, hanging with her friends, and flirting with Miles, her current crush. The last time someone found out Simone was HIV-positive she had to move schools and she’s determined not to let it happen again. But as things get serious with Miles, an anonymous student says they’ll reveal her secret if she doesn’t break up with him. Simone, feeling conflicted, has to decide if the thing she’s most scared of is really the only way out, if it’s time for full disclosure.
Full Disclosure is 100 times more fun, educational, and relatable than I expected it to be. This is partially due to my complete ignorance about HIV as well as the novel’s intense cover. When I stopped judging and got reading, however, I found a story not too unfamiliar that also provided a punch of relevance and intimacy I’ve never seen before. Plus, the author was only nineteen when this book was published, which only adds to the awesomeness.
As I said, I walked into Full Disclosure with little knowledge of HIV (even though I’ve taken a “comprehensive” sex education class) and left informed and angry. Sex-positive YA novels, especially those discussing STDs (and the stigma around them), are essential because teens aren’t receiving the same honest, inclusive, and accurate discussions in class. Sex scenes can be fun and educational, two things that are not accomplished by the “tasteful” (and dated) fade-to-blacks that populate teen fiction.
“Sex-positive YA novels, especially those discussing STDs (and the stigma around them), are essential because teens aren’t receiving the same honest, inclusive, and accurate discussions in class.”
My only critique of Full Disclosure is that it uses the blackmail trope to create conflict. This is used in countless YA novels, mostly in situations where a minority character is being told to come out or reveal a personal part of their identity. The culprit is generally a side character who was there the whole time and generally they get sort-of forgiven by the end even though they probably don’t deserve it (this is @ you, Martin from Simon vs). I still really enjoyed the book, but I wish we could lay this trope to rest because it is so very tired.
Overall, Full Disclosure is fresh, sweet, and fun, a story full of friendships and families of all kinds that has a long-overdue discussion entertainingly. I am very excited for whatever Camryn Garrett tackles next since this novel is only her debut. Not only did I love this book, but I needed it, and you probably need it too.
Rating: four Netflix musical watch parties/five
For fans of: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, Jack of Hearts by Lev AC Rosen, You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Simone is a musical junkie, so of course, I couldn’t resist making a show tune playlist based on her: