Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Okay, so now that that’s out of my system….
Simon’s classmate Martin takes a screen shot of an email that would out Simon as gay. Martin blackmails him with this info, saying if Simon hooks him up with his friend Abby, he’ll keep quiet. Simon reluctantly (and extremely half-heartedly) agrees to this plan. Not only is he not particularly ready to come out, but he doesn’t want to drag Blue through the drama of being exposed, or lose him in the process. Who’s Blue? Well, that’s a good question. Simon doesn’t really know. Their relationship exists only on email, where Simon goes by Jacques. All he really knows about Blue is that he goes to Simon’s school just outside of Atlanta, Georiga. Both boys try to leave as many personal details of their lives out of their emails, understanding that they can be so honest with each other thanks to the anonymity. Their candor and flirtation in the emails reminded me of everything that is good about starting to get to know someone and starting to fall in love with someone.
Simon and Blue are fantastic characters, and this is one of those rare books where every character, no matter how secondary, is extremely well-written and stands out as distinctive and memorable. Simon’s best friends, Nick, Leah, and Abby, are all into their own things, have their own personal dramas both large and small, and serve different purposes in Simon’s life and his story. Simon’s family is also great. They do weekly discussions of The Bachelorette, even Skyping with his sister who is away at college. They are funny and loving and play large roles in Simon’s life in completely realistic ways. None of the characters are any one thing–not even Martin, the blackmailer. They’re complicated and dynamic.
There were so many tiny things I just loved about this book, like Leah’s act of subversion of dressing up in a dress for Homecoming week’s Gender Bender Day, the unpredictability of both the plot and most of the characters, and the conversations and observations about sex, sexuality, race, and more. Simon wonders why straight is the default, why everyone shouldn’t have to come out as whatever their attraction or identity is. I loved the many relationships, romantic and platonic. I also absolutely loved that Blue and Simon (on email as Jacques and in his “real” life) talk about and make flirty innuendos about sex. I don’t want to reveal much more of the plot because a lot of the fun of reading this book was not really knowing what would happen next or how certain events would be dealt with. One repeated idea in the book is that “people really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows.” Getting to explore Simon’s vast rooms, and those of his friends, was a total joy. This book is an absolute must-read: sweet, funny, honest, and filled with a bunch of happy endings. Get this one on your list.
REVIEW COPY COURTESY OF EDELWEISS
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 4/7/2015
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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