Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Reviewed by Joanna

I don’t usually bring YA to this site, for the reasons our name suggests, but this is just so adorable and lovely I want you all to read it then go see the film with me next March, m’kay?

Simon is a sixteen-year-old high school student, who is gay and hasn’t told anyone, and he recently started chatting via email with an unknown boy at his school in similar circumstances. Blue, the mystery boy, intrigues him, and they quickly fall into a screen-based friendship.

He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to. I mean, I just had to know him.

Simon has several close friends who don’t know he’s gay, and neither does his family. But when one of his classmates uses a computer after him and finds Simon hasn’t logged out of his email-the one where he shares messages with Blue-his secret is suddenly no longer safe.

The book explores what it’s like to be a gay teen, but in a very gentle and unthreatening way. Ultimately this is a feel-good story so there’s no violence or high angst. That’s not to say it doesn’t have feeling; it’s chock full of that, as Simon is just such a wonderful and interesting person, and I fell in love with him almost right away.

It is definitely annoying that straight (and white, for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don’t fit that mold. Straight people really should have to come out, and the more awkward it is, the better. Awkwardness should be a requirement. I guess this is sort of our version of the Homosexual Agenda?

He’s cynical and all-knowing as teens should be, but also funny and sweet. He’s full of love, even finding it hard to hate his blackmailer, as the computer spy ultimately turns out to be. This isn’t to say Simon’s perfect either, as he isn’t, but he’s highly relatable and the story flows as he navigates the school play, issues with his friends, falling in love and finding out who it is he’s been sharing his deepest thoughts with. All that alongside finding a way to ditch the awkward and get through the ‘coming out’ he’s frustrated over having no choice in.

“I know what this is,” says my dad. “Let me guess. You’re gay. You got someone pregnant. You’re pregnant.” “Dad, stop it,” says Alice. I close my eyes. “I’m pregnant,” I say. “I thought so, kid,” says my dad. “You’re glowing.”

I read this in two sittings and it instantly became a comfortable and happy place to immerse myself in. Go, grab it. Tell me what you think. Let’s schedule a live-tweet movie date.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Penguin

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