Do you ever read one of those books that makes you stop and stare into space because you can’t believe that no one has written this yet and you also can’t believe how flipping good the book is? That was this book for me. I’m likely going to be talking about this book a lot and for a very long time. It’s just… I mean, I’m going to get into it, but it’s so dang good.
In Full Disclosure, Simone Garcia-Hampton is a regular girl in a regular high school – a girl who loves musicals and has two dads and is adjusting fairly well to life at her new school. There’s only one thing that makes Simone different, something she hides from the world – she’s HIV positive. It doesn’t stop her from doing anything. She’s rarely physically sick anymore. But she essentially got chased out of her old school after disclosing her status to someone she trusted, and she doesn’t want that to happen again. And she’s fine keeping things to herself… until she meets Miles. She’s got such a crush on him, but she knows that dating isn’t really an option for her. But then… he likes her back? And wants to date her too? And is funny and smart and caring and… what even is this? For the first time, Simone starts thinking that she might be able to have something just like everyone else… and then the notes start coming. Threatening notes, notes that tell her that Miles will find out about her positive status if she doesn’t stop hanging out with him.
Here’s the thing about Simone though – nothing is going to stop her.
❤ ❤ ❤
3 Things I Loved
- Simone. I absolutely loved Simone, and it was because she wasn’t always lovable. She’s a tough character, someone who has been through a lot, and who has a lot of challenges ahead of her. But that’s what makes her strong, which is exactly why I loved her. She didn’t always react to situations well, and she didn’t always say the right thing, but she was always genuine. Simone is a GREAT character.
- Miles. If I could write one of the most perfect love interests in a young adult story, he would probably look something like Miles. He’s kind and understanding and he SEES Simone for who she is rather than what she has. Like Simone, he’s not perfect, but he’s so well-written that it seems like he is a lot of the time. He’s just so good.
- The rest of the side characters. There are too many to talk about! Simone’s dads are wonderful and embarrassing and protective and I loved them. Her friends Lydia and Claudia are flawed but fierce, and totally there for Simone. Her fellow group members are complex and heartwarming, and even the “villain,” for lack of a better term, is complicated and real. Everyone in this book is so well-written.
There was very little I disliked about this book, truly, but I’m going to talk about some triggers and shoot down some potential arguments against the book that I can predict reading after its release.
First, some triggers. There’s some biphobia in this book… sort of. I don’t want to give away something that is important to Simone, but there is some misunderstanding of what being bisexual is by one of Simone’s friends that, personally, really resonated with me, which is why I’m bringing it up. As a bi person who has never dated a woman, I FELT Simone feeling like she wasn’t bi enough. And her friends, for a time, perpetuate that feeling for her. But that part has a happy ending. Second, there is a lot of HIV-phobia and lies stated throughout the book – all fought against and proven false by Simone and her strength, but you have to read it all to get to the bravery she shows at the end, and reading some of that was hard. But I think the hardest things for me to read were the talk of what it used to be like, in the 80s, for people who had HIV and AIDS and what their lives were like. The deaths. The making of pariahs. Rent is used (brilliantly, I might add) as an analogue for these discussions, but they’re still hard to read. This book is super important for people to read, and I am NOT trying to lessen that. But I think some people are going to struggle with the subject matter. Which is where I’m going next.
There are two arguments that I can feel are going to eventually be made against this book. First, that Simone is an unrelatable character; and second, that this book “glorifies” HIV and could make people less afraid of it and less cautious. Both of these are bullshit, but I wanted to point them out, because people suck and I can FEEL them. All I’m going to say is this – was I a teenage black girl with HIV trying to navigate the normal trials of high school? Nope. Did I love and relate to Simone and her story anyway? HELL YES. And was HIV and its complication minimized by the text? Absolutely not. In fact, I feel better educated after reading it, truly. Everything was addressed so factually that I actually learned some things reading this delight of a novel. I’m going to be on the front lines fighting those arguments when they start occurring, because this book is important, and I’m so glad I had the privilege to read an advanced copy.
Finally, I only have one quibble, and it’s a spoiler, so I’m going to keep it vague. The “villain” of the story, once they are revealed, states that the reason why they did what they did was because of something that happened in their past. But it wasn’t… really wrapped up enough for me? I feel satisfied with the ending, but it’s like it happened too quickly. It’s a tiny thing, hardly noticeable. But it left me thinking after I finished that book that I wanted just a tiny bit more.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good!
- Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!
I can’t believe I’m about to give this rating AGAIN, but here we are! I read recently that you’re allowed to give out as many five star reviews as you want, and it doesn’t diminish the critique of your reading. It’s just what’s available and what you’re choosing to read! I don’t give numbered star ratings here at Snark and Squee, but I DO give the occasional unicorn… and I’m about to drop the second one this month! I’m giving Full Disclosure a PURPLE rating. This book is important and well-written and wonderful and relatable and real. I truly think everyone should read it.
Thank you THANK YOU to the publisher and to NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I’ll be recommending this one out to E V E R Y O N E after its release, which is NEXT TUESDAY! *cue confetti*