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Positively Hardcover – September 15, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6–8—Emmy is infected with the HIV virus, and her mother, infected before she married Emmy's father, dies of AIDS at the beginning of the book. Angry and alone, the 13-year-old moves in with her semi-estranged father and newly pregnant stepmother. At a loss for how to help Emmy recover from her grief and alienation, they send her to a summer camp for girls with HIV and AIDS. There she realizes that she is not alone, not the only person to take handfuls of pills on a daily basis, not the only girl who worries about the complications of dating with the virus. She returns home with a new perspective, welcoming her half sister into her life and admitting her newfound desire for a happier, more "positive" existence. Emmy refers to her condition alternately as being HIV positive and infected with AIDS, which may confuse readers grappling to understand the difference. What does come through is her very real anger and her fear about her future. Some readers may find the plot development slow, but Emmy's situation is compelling and underrepresented in YA fiction.—Nora G. Murphy, Los Angeles Academy Middle School
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"Courtney Sheinmel has captured, with honesty and perception, the complicated thoughts of thirteen-year-old Emmy Price as she navigates her life during the difficult months following her mother's death from AIDS. Emmy, who's HIV-positive, not only must deal with the loss of the person she loved the most, but must face her own illness with a new sense of heart-wrenching reality. I cheered every one of Emmy's cautious steps on her journey to make a place for herself in a world without her mother." -- Ann M. Martin, author of A Corner of the Universe and A Dog's Life
"Utterly enthralling, Positively tugs at your heartstrings from the first page and doesn't let go. Courtney Sheinmel has created such a believable character in thirteen-year-old Emmy that I didn't want to leave her. This could be the most important book you read all year." -- Wendy Mass, author of Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
"Courtney Sheinmel's powerful tale of teenager Emerson Price's journey growing up with AIDS sends a torpedo right to the heart. I loved it. Never preachy, Emmy's story feels as if you've delved into her personal diary. I cried and I smiled and eventually felt a sisterhood with Emmy, whose message 'anything is possible' made me cheer." -- actor Marlee Matlin, author of Deaf Child Crossing
"SHeinmel believably portrays the frustration and anxiety of a girl carrying a particularly heavy burden into the adolescent years of possible romance and growing independance...Kids with thier own health issues may find this provides some useful perspective...while other readers will be drawn by "could be me" drama."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
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Emmy, or Emerson, was girl who constantly awed me with her braveness and honesty towards the life she has been dealt. Since I know if I was the one dealing with all of her problems I would be hiding in the corner somewhere crying. But not Emmy; she goes far and above to make sense of her life, allowing her to create her life to be the best it can be, even when her weakness and freight gets in the way. Plus, her voice is one that just sticks with you long after you've finished reading her story. The other characters who were facing the harrowing trouble of being HIV infested were the same way; going far beyond to completely gain my respect and support with their braveness.
While the plot wasn't always the most exciting thing out there, Courtney made it magnificent with her writing. Since time after time she made the characters come to life and jump of the page. Further more, I seriously applaud her for giving us such a honest and blunt look into living with AIDS. Since not once did she sugarcoat it into being something that it wasn't.
In all, Positively is a book that I feel everyone should read no matter what age you are because it gives you such a great look in the life of one with HIV, and the message that no matter who you are and what you've been dealt with you can always make you life the best it can be if you try.
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 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.