by Becky Albertalli
Published on April 7, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
I don’t read contemporaries.
Well, let me re-phrase that. I don’t read them often because, of the ones I’ve read, they can be divided into loved it or never reading again. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was a pick for a reading challenge and far from my usual selection but all I can say is that it was ALMOST sickeningly adorable and I loved it.
This book details the daily life and email exchanges between one Simon Spier and the anonymous Blue as each comes out as gay in their community in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s cute, fun, and light-hearted, addressing a moment in Simon’s life where he has to make a decision that will change everything for him.
I think what struck me with this book had nothing to do with the story itself so much as the writing style and world Albertalli creates. High school wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences for me but I found something relatable on almost every page of this book. I was back in high school as I read this. From the tone to the way Simon talks and tells his story, I had an instant connection with the book and characters. The story is solely Simon’s but infinitely everyone’s. This is the type of book I would recommend to anyone regardless of what they normally read (unless they only read horror in which case sorry, Simon might not be a good fit).
Simon is a quirky, hopeless romantic. He’s caught up in his own world to a degree, like all of us have been at one point or another, and it causes conflict with his friends at times. But Albertalli really hits the idea of friendship hard. Yes, there are the email exchanges between Simon and Blue, the mysterious internet stranger he’s been chatting with, and those are adorable. Friends aren’t ignored, though, and the book brings up those interactions often and offers a good message about the importance and consequences of your actions. Not only does this book capture a romance in line with a fairy tale, but there’s a message beneath it all that I think everyone could use regardless of where they are in their life.
I’ll be honest, I don’t read as many diverse books as I should. It’s not a topic addressed nearly as often in my usual genres so I don’t see it often (though I definitely love seeing it because it’s a subject that needs to be out there). If you’re looking to read more books that include diversity I highly recommend adding this book to your list. I regret putting it off in favor of other books because it’s not a long read and you won’t want to put it down once you start.
Regardless of what you usually read, I think you need this book in your life. There’s something here for everyone and it’s a book I would include on a school reading list if I had that power.