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     Monday, October 02, 2023
For men, women, and teens

Book Review: Positively by Courtney Sheinmel

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A selection of books next to each other

"Positively" by Courtney Sheinmel, 2009, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York.

Available in Kindle, paperback and hard cover.

Imagine growing up knowing you were HIV positive: how would this affect your attitude or other people’s attitudes to dating? What is it like having to take medication at mealtimes every day, even at school? What does it feel like knowing that the HIV virus could turn into full-blown AIDS at any point? These questions and many more besides are touched on in teen fiction book "Positively" by Courtney Sheinmel.

Thirteen year old main character Emerson Price is HIV positive, infected from birth from her mother who had AIDS. The book opens with the recent AIDS death of Emerson’s mother.

Now, in addition to dealing with being HIV positive as she has always had to do, Emerson is grieving for her mother and also having to adjust to moving in with her father and stepmother. Emerson is a strong and feisty person but keeps a lot of her thoughts and emotions inside. She is unable to deal with her new situation and shocks herself and others around her by some of her actions. Not used to living with her father and her stepmother whom she barely knows, it quickly becomes obvious that things are just not working out. What will happen to Emerson?

Who will enjoy this young adult book?

Teen readers will quickly get hooked on finding out what happens next. This teen novel is full of ups and downs which takes readers on a can’t-put-down journey to find out more. "Positively" by Courtney Sheinmel is ideal for readers aged 11 to 16. Although the main character is only 13 years old, a lot of the questions posed here will continue to be of interest to more mature readers. The book is clean in content, making it an ideal one for parents looking for a book with great readability and teen appeal, yet touching on highly significant issues.

Emerson Price is a realistic character who is tough yet thinks a lot. Because of this combination of traits, Emerson will appeal to teens of virtually all personality types. Author Courtney Sheinmel has crafted an impressive book, keeping the action and the dialogue going quickly, which in a lesser author’s hands might have turned into an introspective book low on action (due to the big
issues at hand and Emerson’s lack of talkativity).

As it is, "Positively" is a remarkable novel for young adults which is fast-moving and keeps the reader’s attention at all times. Rebellious teens will relate to Emerson’s personality, while those of a more stick-to-the-rules personality will enjoy the book for its plot.

About the author of this book
Courtney Sheinmel was inspired to write this young adult fiction book from her experiences and knowledge volunteering at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. She started helping out there as a young teen and continues to have some involvement to this day. In fact, the copy of the book I am reading has a notice that says “The author is donating a portion of her proceeds from this book to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.” This is Courtney Sheinmel’s second novel.


All readers will think about the important issues of HIV and AIDS and how this impacts a teenager’s whole life – current and future. This is not a book which will be forgotten after reading.

On a separate note, if you'd like your mornings to go more smoothly, take a look at our good morning tips for before school.

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