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Positively by Courtney Sheinmel
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Positively

by Courtney Sheinmel

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Recommended Ages: Gr. 6-9

Plot Summary: Emmy was born with HIV and she and her entire school has known about it her entire life. When her mom dies from AIDS, Emmy is having a hard time adjusting to the loss and moving in with her father and stepmother. When her anger gets the better of her, she breaks all of her stepmothers fine china, and Dad and Meg inform her she is going to Camp Positive, a camp for kids with HIV. She doesn't want to participate in any of the activities there but eventually she finds friends and realizes her mom will always be with her and a part of her, no matter what happens.

Setting: Connecticut

Characters:
Emmy AKA Emerson Price - 13 y/o, 7th grade
Lisa Palladino - mom's best friend, married to Grant with young child Oliver, lives in New York
Meg - stepmother, pregnant with first child
Simone Price - Emmy's mom, died from AIDS, contracted AIDS from ex Travis who she dated right before Dad
Bryan AKA Dad - divorced mom when Emmy was 8 y/o
Nicole Lister - Emmy's best friend
Seth and Riley - Nicole's 4 y/o siblings
Aaron Bay - Emmy's crush at school
Whitney - Emmy's friend at camp, ditch nature walk and go on a canoe, get in trouble and must do dish duty for a week as punishment, gets sick from medicine and goes home early
Robin - camp director, started camp when her niece died from AIDS, probably in 40's
Hannah Rose - Emmy's half sister that Emmy got to name
Amanda - counselor for Emmy's bunk

Recurring Themes: AIDS, HIV, death, loss of a parent, family, stepparents, birth,

Controversial Issues:
Emmy sits "Indian-style"
3 mentions that you can contract AIDS through sex with someone who has it

Personal Thoughts: While this book is on a very worthwhile topic, I found the writing to be horrible. It was didactic, telling the reader how Emmy feels instead of showing the reader how she feels. There were many points in the book in which I felt the explanation was silly, for example when Emmy describes the chair at a salon that allows you to wash your hair. I'm pretty sure every 12 y/o girl reading this book doesn't need that description. It feels like the author is talking down to the reader in every way, and the narrative doesn't flow very well. Readers can't feel Emmy's change, they just know it's happening because she is telling us.

Genre: realistic fiction, drama

Pacing: medium
Characters: not too many
Frame:
Storyline:

Activity: ( )
  pigeonlover | Jul 27, 2011 |
This is a book that explores something not many do--living with HIV. Emmy loses her mother to AIDS at the beginning of the book. Not only must she come to terms with that, but she must also keep her HIV in check while adjusting to living with her dad and pregnant stepmom. In comes Camp Positive to help her cope. This is a realistic, hopeful book that can help anyone dealing with health issues. ( )
  deforestRMS | Mar 14, 2011 |
An absolutely beautiful, and at times heartbreaking, novel about a 13 year old girl who is HIV positive. Sheinmel's writing is both gentle and harsh, exposing us to the realities of being an HIV positive teen, while attempting to remind us that life is precious. While that sounds a bit stiff or mushy, Positively is neither of those. Instead, it's a beautiful novel written with all the angst of a girl who has twice as many problems as the rest of us -- and how she learns to grow. Loved it (even though it made me cry a few times). ( )
1 vote callmecayce | Aug 13, 2010 |
Reviewed by Breanna F. for TeensReadToo.com

Emerson Price has had a tough life so far. When she was young, her mother got sick from HIV, which eventually turned into AIDS. Then Emmy's mother and father found out that Emmy had it, too. She got it while her mother was pregnant with her.

Emerson is now 13 and her mother has just died from AIDS. She was always okay with having HIV when her mother was alive, because her mom knew what it was like. Her father never understood and he ended up divorcing Emmy's mother because the stress was just too much. Now, her father is re-married to a woman named Meg, and she's pregnant. Since Emmy's mother is no longer there, she has to go live with her father - and Emmy doesn't know what to think about it. She just wants her mother back, that's all.

She feels like she can't trust anyone to be her real friend. She thinks that everyone just feels sorry for the sick girl. Now that her mother is gone, she feels like her best friend is just hanging out with her because she pities her, which is not the case at all. So Emmy starts to push her away.

When things start getting worse her stepmother, Meg, finds out about a camp called Camp Positive. It is a camp for kids who are HIV positive. Emmy's father makes her go, even though it's the last thing that she wants to do. She has every intention of not opening up to anyone at the camp. But when she arrives there she meets a girl named Whitney who she ends up having a connection with. Soon, Emmy starts to open up because of Whitney and actually lets some emotion out.

POSITIVELY was such a heart-wrenching story. The whole time I couldn't help but feel bad for Emerson. I couldn't even begin to imagine what living with HIV would be like, especially when you're that young and have just lost your mother. I didn't even think she'd really give Camp Positive a chance at all, but was surprised to find out that she actually made a friend there.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes sad but in the end uplifting stories. This really was a great read and a page-turner. It is also based off the author's experience with the Elizabeth Glaser AIDS Foundation, so that makes this book even more real to me. ( )
1 vote | GeniusJen | Jun 13, 2010 |
Positively
Courtney Sheinmel

This novel tackles a topic that is hard for many people to talk about, AIDS. Not only does the author write about this topic with emotion and passion, but brings it to the reader from the view of a 13 year old girl. Someone who was HIV-positive from birth, completely innocent of choices that characterize many people who have the virus. The author, Courtney Sheinmel has worked with the Pediatric Aids Foundation since she was a young girl, and so she writes this novel from a very unique perspective. I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it for all YA fans.

The novel is told from the view of Emerson price, a girl who from the age of four years old, has been diagnosed as being HIV-positive. The story takes place just after her mother dies from AIDS and follows her for the next half year or so of her life, as she adjusts to a world that no longer includes her mother.

Throughout the story, Emerson grows as a character. The author takes us on an emotional roller coaster through Emerson's eyes - times of deep loss and heartache, love, and happiness. I really admire Emerson's character. Not only does she have to deal with normal teenage girl stuff - like boys and school, but also has to deal with this disease. ( )
  despez | Jun 9, 2010 |
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Thirteen-year-old Emmy, grieving over her mother who died of AIDS, resentful of having to live with her father and pregnant stepmother, and despairing about her future, finds hope at a summer camp for HIV-positive girls like herself. Includes facts about Elizabeth Glaser, one of the founders of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.… (more)

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