Where We Go From Here

PUSH. Jun. 2020. 288p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338556247.
Gr 10 Up–This much-needed Brazilian import, addressing the stigmas surrounding those living with HIV, could not be more welcome. The accessible prose, narrated by three young men in Rio, unveils life in the age of antiretrovirals. Readers jump straight into the fray: Ian is waiting for his results at a clinic and notices Victor, also waiting. Results in hand, they leave the clinic at the same time. Victor has slept with Henrique, a very responsible college student, who informs Victor (after the fact) that he is HIV+, but undetectable. Victor tests negative. Ian, who used to judge people for one-night stands, faces his own recklessness with his positive result. Victor offers Henrique’s number to Ian to help him answer the titular question. These intersections forge the narrative structure of this fast-paced story. Readers witness the painful rejections that plague Henrique through his intimate chapters, and the friendship that his roommate, a drag queen, offers. Rocha deftly handles the romantic woes and glories, as well as the triumphs of friendship, within the gay community: the camaraderie of Rio’s drag queen scene; the complicated behavior of men who haven’t come out for various reasons; the lack of parental support (or the blessing of having understanding parents and families); and the daily burden of hiding who you are.
VERDICT An authentic, deeply felt debut, this book is chock-full of poignant conversation starters for books clubs and collections serving older teens.

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