Simone Garcia-Hampton is a seventeen-year-old HIV-positive girl attending a private Catholic high school–her second private Catholic high school, that is, after being “outed” by someone she thought was her best friend at the first school. Bullying and intimidation have caused her to switch schools to escape harassment. At the second school she keeps her HIV status quiet, sharing it only with new friends, Lydia and Claudia.
Although Simone has been at Sacred Heart for just four months and has zero experience in theatre (but she LOVES stage musicals!), she is selected to direct the class play, an adaptation of “Rent.” During rehearsals she develops a romantic relationship with a member of the stage crew, Miles, a popular lacrosse player temporarily sidelined by a leg injury. At the very outset of the relationship, she begins to worry about how her HIV status will affect Miles, and she waffles between telling him or stalling for a more opportune moment. At the same time, she begins to receive anonymous notes and a text telling her to ditch Miles or have her secret revealed to the entire school.
Despite some really unbelievable plot points, this book presents a useful, detailed description of past and present AIDS research and HIV treatment as well as a thorough examination of societal issues of discrimination and harassment. Just about every aspect of gender fluidity is represented by the various characters in the book (Simone’s two fathers are gay, Claudia is asexual, Lydia and Simone are bisexual, etc.), with little to no opproprium attached.
A look at the colored tabs shows the prevalence of objectionable language and sexual references. There are graphic sexual scenes involving oral sex and masturbation, as well as a detailed description of a fun visit Simone and her girlfriends make to a sex shop to pick out a multi-function vibrator. It’s pretty much ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET on steroids.
This one is a no-buy for me.
Categories: Bullying, Civil Rights, Diversity, Dysfunctional Relationships, LGBTQIA, Navigating through High School, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Political Activism, Racism, Social Media, Theatre & Film