Full Disclosure is a book that Penguin recently sent me and I am beyond grateful that they did because not only was it super enjoyable but I think it’s one of the. most. important. books. in. YA. right. now!
Let me tell you all the reasons why!
Before I get started, if you’d rather watch my review, I’ve done a video review over on my YouTube channel and the points are pretty much identical!
But if reading reviews is your thing, let’s continue on here!
Full Disclosure is another super-important YA book from Penguin and follows a similar theme of important topics, just like Jack of Hearts (and other parts).
Full Disclosure tells an important story that deals with important issues that are just as prevalent today as they’ve ever been.
Just like Jack, we get sex positivity by the bucket-load. Is the first part of the book absolutely dominated by sex talk, characters thinking about sex, characters wanting and having sex…yes. Do teenagers have other aspects of their lives other than sex that they talk about that we don’t really get in this book?…also yes.
But I personally didn’t feel like this made the characters one-dimensional. Usually I would think this, but the whole book is about a HIV Positive person wanting to become sexually active – so it really needs to talk about sex. Also, the writing has been done so well I can let it slide and I’m also willing to let it slide because YA NEEDS MORE SEX POSITIVE BOOKS!
Ok – on to something I need to make clear before we go on – the age of consent is different in different countries – so I don’t want people being like “well these characters are underage so it’s gross/irresponsible”. If they were like, 13 I’d agree with you on this, but these are teenagers – older teens at that. And, c’mon, were you never young once? So keep that in mind.
But on to the characters. Wow are they real!
And part of this probably has to do with the fact that the author was a teen when she wrote this – so speech and behaviour is realistic and all that jazz.
But these characters aren’t perfect – they are real! Even the idyllic Miles. Miles is the perfect boyfriend in this book – and has snuck onto my list of Top Book Partners! But there’s this bit where Miles isn’t his usual confident and assertive self – and in the context of the situation you understand why.
It means he’s not perfect…he’s real! Same with our MC Simone’s best friends – they are super supportive throughout the book and then there’s this bit where they fall out for a while – name me a group of teenage girl besties who haven’t done this at some point! The REALNESS is REAL!
I love how real our MC is, she’s fallible and it’s so real. For example, she wants acceptance of HIV and the stigma to end – obviously – but when she talks about it with HIV negative characters, she snaps when people ask questions that may not be the most profound/insightful, but then has an inner monologue about how she shouldn’t be annoyed because this is a lot of peoples first experience and it’s not necessarily their fault about the general ignorance – they don’t live with it so don’t know every detail. The next step would be to have the character outwardly acknowledge this – apologise for snapping etc, say ‘hey look, I didn’t mean that, but some of the questions I get are really dumb.’
But this is her first experience explaining it really too, and she’s 17 – which one of us were completely refined and a master of our emotions at 17?
So the story of Full Disclosure follows our MC Simone, who is HIV positive – she has been her whole life. And the story follows her as she discovers how she can live a ‘normal’ life, with relationships and everything. Even if people know her status.
It’s coming of age story really. And it’s great.
And this is set today! Not in the midst of the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s so refreshing to see, and there are going to be a lot of people who will see themselves in Simone and be able to relate and find some connection.
Also, with this being set today, information, such as medical treatments, is as up-to-date as it can be, and people will learn something. I did!
I had no idea of the U=U rule before reading this book. In case you don’t know it either, let me pass on this important info (which I have researched and exists in the ‘real world’ too, it’s not a ‘wishful thinking’ aspect of the book world. It’s real!) If the HIV positive person has an undetectable viral load (due to their medication) they cannot transmit the virus to HIV negative people! Undetectable = untransmitable.
This book is going to help so many people.
The book deals with more issues than HIV too, without it feeling shoe-horned in. we get issues surrounding race and sexuality brought up too. Also, the romance was sweet for once!
Ok, obviously this is a 5 star read for me – but ya’ll know me, I don’t believe in perfect books, and 5 star reads can still have some aspects that I didn’t gel with, or particularly like, without it dropping a star.
And there are a few negs I have in Full Disclosure – I’m obviously not going to discuss any continuity issues or spelling/grammar because this is an ARC, but there’s two scenes that I wanna talk about – but not in great detail as they might make it to the final cut, or they could be cut from the book entirely.
One scene is where a stereotype of a whole group of people is made, and no one challenges it – which is frustrating because every other stereotype in the book was challenged by one of the characters.
The other is a father literally being in the same room as his 17 year old daughter at the OB-GYN – a 17 year old who clearly doesn’t want him there – the doctor should have asked him to leave. This 17 year old is also told to remove her underwear, but that no vaginal exam will happen on that day – only a breast exam. I’m a bit concerned about that – seems like bad medical practice and might give people the wrong impression…
But both these scenes could be cut – or make it, whatever. I just wanted to mention it.
One (neg) thing I doubt will be cut, because it happened throughout the whole book, is that everyone was so focused on labels. Either labeling themselves, labeling others, trying to find their label – everyone seemed to want to be in their own little box and it was pretty much the only thing that wasn’t realistic, and that bothered me.
I hate labels – especially when they are so hyper-focused on. Don’t get me wrong, identity is important, and you can identify however you want in serious or arbitrary ways – for example, I’m bisexual and I’m team pineapple-on-pizza. But it was such a heavy focus in the book and just as important to every character. It seemed a little bit check-boxey.
One final thing – minor, but poor Miles seemed pretty objectified at times. Like, that’s all Simone cared about, his looks and body…it did get better and she started liking him for him, but a little late for me – past the whole initial crush/attraction stage. But whatever, minor point.
But these are minor points from an ARC – so don’t hold the negs to me 100%. What you can hold me to is that this book is a 5 star read from me. And a debut too! Holy crap!
This book may end up getting dragged by certain groups of people – like Jack of Hearts did – because of its subject matter, but fuck them.
This book should be read by everyone and should be in schools. Yes, schools. And just like Jack, I am firmly in the ‘this is YA not NA’. Yes there’s sex, so maybe don’t give it to the 13 years olds, but this should be available to anyone who wants to read it – preferably as they are starting to get interested in sex.
Newsflash – teenagers have sex, and they should be informed as best as possible before they start. So putting this as NA isn’t going to do much good!
But I digress. Read this book. It’s an amazing story, with real characters and addresses important issues is a succinct yet enjoyable way.
What more could you want? So go order Full Disclosure!
I’d like to seriously thank Penguin for sending me a copy for review – you’ve literally changed my life – especially as I’m now legit more educated in HIV, transmission and treatment. That U=U seriously blew my mind and I’m so grateful I know it!
What are you waiting for? Get Full Disclosure with FREE worldwide delivery! You can do that by clicking here!
[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this review – all the opinions are honest and my own.
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