Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Positively by Courtney Sheinmel

Title: Positively
Author: Courtney Sheinmel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing                     
Pages: 224
Release date: September 15th 2009
Genre: MG; contemporary
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Since the day Emerson Pressman and her mother were diagnosed as HIV positive, nothing has been the same. When her mother dies of AIDS, Emmy has to go live with the father and stepmother she barely knows, and she feels more alone than ever. Now she has to take pills by herself, and there is no one left who understands what it's like to be afraid every time she has a cold. But when her father decides to send her to Camp Positive, a camp for HIV-positive children, Emmy begins to realize that she's not alone after all, and that sometimes, opening up to other people can make all the difference in the world.

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

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'd heard basically nothing about this book, but since it cost only 4€ at The Book Depository I decided to just buy it, without knowing all that much about it. When It arrived and I read what it said on the back of the book, I was surprised to read it's for ages 9 to 14. I read it anyways, and the fact that it's MG, not YA like I'd thought, didn' bother me much. Yeah, there are some explanations about what HIV and AIDS are, which I wouldn't have needed, and Emmy makes some immature decisions, but it's not like that never happens in YA. Anyways, what I'm trying to say is, don't let the fact that this is for a younger audience discourage you - Positively is a great book!

What's so great about Positively are the emotions it conveys. Emmy's story is heartbreaking. Struggling with HIV is heartbreaking as it is, and the fact that Emmy is only thriteen makes it even sadder. Emmy's feelings, both about her mother's death and her own disease, are raw and real, and I could feel them all easily, making me cry several times throughout this book. But Positively isn't only a sad book - it's also hopeful, the message making me smile throughout the book, too (well, more at the end, but whatever).

I loved the whole idea for this book - I've never read about someone being HIV positive, and how that affects every aspect of your life. The idea of having Emmy go to Camp Positive is great, too. At times, though, I was kind of bored by the plot - nothing all that much happens, and I think a few things could have been cut, especially since this book is actually for people younger than me, who I'm assuming, in general, get bored easier.

The writing, though, is what held my attention. Courtney Sheinmel somehow managed to make the voice authentic for a thirteen-year-old girl, but still have the writing be beautiful, vivid and insightful. Emmy's voice is great, and her way of expressing herself is just beautiful. It´s so innocent, despite what she's gone through, and that really showed the cruelty of a child having to face something as grave as AIDS.

I don't have much more to say about this book, but I definitely recommend it. I'm sad to not have seen it around more. Even though it's MG and about a thirteen-year-old girl, I think it's suitable for YA readers, too. It's a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful story.


  1. I've never seen this one around, either, but it sounds amazing. And like a great addition to any classroom or library where there are kids dealing with similar situations. Thanks for the share!

  2. AH! I've been trying to comment here for about ten minutes - I think blogspot must be broken today.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. I'd never even heard of it before, but it looks amazing. It's gone straight onto the wishlist :)


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