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review: “positively” March 3, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Positively by Courtney Sheinmel.
Simon and Schuster // Hardcover // 224 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Emmy’s always known that she was HIV-Positive — she got the disease from her mother during pregnancy. And at age 13, Emmy’s mother passes away leaving Emmy to an unsure new world, living with her father and stepmother. Unsure, scared, and angry Emmy acts out against her new world. Her father and stepmother try to help as best they can and finally decide to send Emmy to Camp Positive — a summer camp for those fighting HIV/AIDS.

I was convinced that this book would be a downer. What surprised me most about it was the hopeful nature of the book. I think that Emmy ultimately grows a lot throughout the book and is on the way to emotionally healing when we leave her.

Other great things about this book include the realistic way that AIDS/HIV talk was handled. Perfectly age appropriate, accurate information. None of the characters were talked down to, and Emmy’s concerns were ones that I felt all teenagers would be concerned about.

Sheinmel also masterly crafts an authentic young teenage voice. I was so drawn into Emmy’s words and world that having to put the book down left me wondering what was going on in the book while I was away. I also definitely had flashbacks to when I was younger teen.

This is such a better alternative to Lurlene McDaniel books. (Not that those don’t hold a special place in my heart — they were the only books that I could read after my Gram passed away from cancer as a young teen.) But Emmy’s story feels much more real, and way more contemporary than older books.

The book definitely got me to think and also to cry a little. But again, it wound up being a very hopeful and truthful story.

Definitely recommended for public libraries.

SWAN catalog
Courtney Sheinmel




1. Rachael - March 4, 2010

Now I want to read this…but I just went and checked and no copies at my library or work! Now I have to wait and order it but It sounds really good. Great review!

2. Lauren (I Was A Teenage Book Geek) - March 4, 2010

I’d heard about this one a while back but kind of forgot about it. I’m really glad you reviewed it though because it’s something I really do want to read. It’s great to hear you enjoyed it.

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