“An absolutely necessary and illuminating read. This will definitely make people question their own morality. And it’s about damn time.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Full Disclosure is Camryn Garrett’s début novel and the story revolves around Simone Hampton-Garcia, an HIV-positive teenager. Simone has lived with HIV her whole life but she’s determined that it won’t define her as a person, and although Simone knows that celibacy is the only sure-fire way to stay safe, she doesn’t want her positive status to define her relationships either. So, when she starts going out with Miles Austin, an intelligent, funny and kind boy from her school, Simone becomes nervous about how to talk about her HIV status. Her classmates don’t know that she’s HIV-positive but, in the wrong hands, what is this truth worth?
Camryn Garrett’s Full Disclosure is an eye-opening and honest exposure of what it might be like to grow up black and HIV-positive. Throughout Simone’s narrative, Garrett tackles many of the myths and misconceptions surrounding HIV and AIDs. She writes about the often-overlooked science of Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) which states that someone with an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit the virus. Garrett also writes about the medication that HIV-positive people take daily and the medication their negative partners can take, Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which again can lower their chances of infection.
Through the voice of an everyday teenager, facing many of the same issues all teenagers face such as friendships, relationships and sexuality, Garrett’s novel starts to breakdown the stigma surrounding HIV by showing readers that HIV-positive people are just like everyone else.
Full Disclosure not only examines the fear surrounding HIV but is it also extremely intersectional and fiercely feminist in its diverse representation of people that allow all readers to see themselves on the pages of this book. The novel features a whole range of characters who allow the author to portray various intersections of social and political identities. Simone’s adoptive fathers, who play a large part in this book, are a gay couple, one of whom is black like Simone and the other who has a Latinx heritage. Miles Austin who is also black and plays lacrosse allows the author to tackle racism in sports.
The author also portrays teenage sexual exploration as young people begin to find their own sexuality and gender expression in a modern era, Garrett does this through Simone’s own exploration of her sexuality, her best friends Lydia and Claudia one of whom is asexual in a relationship with a girl and the other who identifies as bisexual and is in a relationship with a boy, and a whole cast of other supporting characters many of whom are part of the GSA (Gay and Straight Alliance) at school and represent various gender orientations and sexualities.
Camryn Garrett’s Full Disclosure is a heart-warming, romantic, funny and hopeful coming-of-age novel about friendship, trust, and finding your own identity during adolescence. Brilliantly written, Garrett perfectly balances between the humour of teenage life and shedding some light on what it’s like to be HIV-positive in contemporary America. Full Disclosure is a brave, emotive and necessary novel which is unapologetically sex-positive while successfully tackling discrimination, prejudice and stigma.
Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog
Added 6tg February 2020