Wednesday, December 01, 2010

REVIEW: Positively by Courtney Sheinmel

Author: Courtney Sheinmel
Pages: 224
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 15th September 2009

From Amazon
Emerson Price cannot remember a time when life wasordinary. She was four-years-old when she and her mom were diagnosed as HIV-positive – infected with the virus that causes AIDS, and eight when her parents divorced. Now she is thirteen and her mother is dead. Emmy moves in with her father and stepmother, but she feels completely alone. Even though everyone has always accepted her, no one – not her father, or stepmother, or even her best friend – understands what it’s like to have to take medicine every single day, to be so afraid of getting sick, and to miss her mom more than she ever thought she would.  When Emmy’s dad and stepmother send her to Camp Positive, a camp for HIV-positive girls, Emmy is certain she is going to hate it. But soon she realizes that she is not so alone after all – and that sometimes letting other people in can make all the difference in the world.  

I borrowed Positively from Caroline at Portrait of a Woman who's having an awesome HIV/AIDs in YA literature Week. It started on 28th November and finishes on the 5th December. Don't forget to check it out and grab the button! Today is also World AIDS Day, so it'd be fantastic if you could have a read of my review, or even better, buy a copy of this book!!


Emmy Price can't remember the time when her life was ever considered 'normal', especially compared to the lives of her fellow seventh graders. Emmy has HIV, which she acquired from her mother, who is also HIV-positive. When her parents got divorced, she stayed with her mother, and the book begins shortly after her mother dies from AIDS. At just 13, Emmy has to go and live with her father and stepmother, Meg, who is also expecting a baby. Emmy can't help but hate her, but it's mostly down to how alone she feels now her mother is gone. 

Then, Emmy is sent to Camp Positive; a camp for kids who are HIV-positive. Emmy knows she's going to hate it there, but when she gets there, she sees things in a different light. The people all around her suffer as much as she does, and almost every one of them has lost somebody like she has. She soon realises she's not as lonely as she thought she was, and that sometimes, it can make all the difference in the world by just talking about it.

Firstly. The first line. It's chilling, and I immediately felt so much sympathy for this girl I didn't even know, unexpected tears welling up in my eyes.

"When my mother died I imagined God was thinking, One down, and one to go."

Sheinmel deals with a tough issue, though her language and style of writing are more than appropriate for everybody to read, whether or not you know what HIV/AIDs is. There are so many people in this world who are probably not even aware of this disease and what it means for the people who have it. 

One aspect that especially stood out to me was Emmy's attitude toward her mum. She's never believed it's all her mum's fault that they've both got HIV. She's always thought the best of her. Although it was upsetting to think of her, Emmy always thought of her the same throughout the book: the amazing, beautiful mother-but-more-like-a-best-friend who she would continue loving forever.

I loved Positively. It's a book that really pulls on your heartstrings. It's thought-provoking, remarkable, enlightening, and realistic. Positively is a novel about a girl with a genuinely touching voice, with emotional baggage to last a lifetime. It gives us an insight into the mind of a teenage girl with HIV and whoever you are, wherever you are, I hope the message reaches you.

I just want to add a little something about the Author Note at the back of the book: it makes me want to cry even more knowing that this is story was inspired by real-life events, particularly the author's involvement with the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation. Some of the proceeds also go to the EGP AID Foundatin, so what are you waiting for? Go buy!


  1. oh wow it sounds amazing!! thanks for the fab review :)

  2. I loved Positively (and all of Sheinmel's other books). She tackles timely subjects and her characters are so real.


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