Wednesday, June 9, 2010


by Courtney Sheinmel

Emerson "Emmy" Price was diagnosed with HIV when she was only four years old.  Her mother died from complications due to AIDS when Emmy was just 13.  And now Emmy's entire world has flipped.

She's living with her dad (who abandoned her and her mother soon after the diagnosis) and his new wife, who happens to be very pregnant.

For a while, whenever she does something, Emmy thinks, "This is the first time I've done _____ without a mother."  Later, she thinks about how her mother will never be able to see her do things ever again.  After a while, Emmy even questions the purpose of taking her medications at the same time every day, three times a day.  Would it really matter if she was a little late?  Would it be so horrible if she skipped a dose?

Her dad and stepmother keep trying to reach out to her, and Emmy knows that they are doing it because they love her, but every thought of being nice in return makes her feel like she's betraying her mother.

After going a little crazy and scaring her stepmother, Emmy's dad decides she needs to get away for a while.  So he sends her to Camp Positive, a six-week summer camp that solely designed for HIV-positive girls.  While she doesn't want to go, Emmy has no choice, and now she's with a group of girls just like her.

Will it make a difference?

Final thoughts:  I liked Sheinmel's earlier book, My So-Called Family, so I had good feelings walking into this one.  She could have treated this subject in a very dark way, and Emmy can be very dark, but the overall feeling is one of positivity.  My only complaint would be that the writing from Emmy's point of view felt younger than her 13 years.  I occasionally felt like she was around nine or ten, just by the sentence structure and vocabulary.  Overall, though, a good book and a great resource for kids who are dealing with HIV/AIDS in their own homes and bodies.

Rating: 4/5

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