“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?” (Albertalli, 2015, p. 147).
“The Homosexual Agenda? I don’t know. I think it’s more like the Homo Sapiens Agenda. That’s really the point, right?” (Albertalli, 2015, p. 148).
Welcome to the new and improved version of this blog! I’ve decided to keep it going after the conclusion of my class, as I’ve really enjoyed sharing my thoughts on YA literature with the world for these last few weeks. As a caveat, however, these posts will not be nearly as formal as they were when I was being graded for them, though my thoughts will remain real and unfiltered. I will also only be posting here on SOME of the books I read; for the rest, feel free to check out my Goodreads account. Even when I don’t post here, I will always post my thoughts there! But enough house-keeping; let’s get on to my review!
This book follows the story of sixteen-year-old Simon Spier, a boy who is grappling with the decision to come out to his friends and family. For the past few months, he’s been e-mailing back and forth with someone known to him only as “Blue,” another boy who goes to his school. The two have a strong, almost instant connection, and help one another to navigate the harsh waters of high school. When one of Simon’s e-mails to Blue is accidentally discovered by Martin, a classmate with a reputation for being the class clown, Simon is black-mailed into helping him land a date with Abby, one of Simon’s best friends. What follows is a story about friendship, love, family, and the trials that come with high school.
I absolutely LOVED this book. Simon is perhaps the sweetest fictional character I have ever come across, and I loved following his journey throughout the novel. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out who Blue was as the story progressed, and I’m proud to say that I had it pretty much figured out before I’d even reached the halfway point. That being said, I love that this novel focused much more on the emotional connection between the two characters than it did a physical relationship; so many young adult novels tend to skip this part of a relationship, but I think it’s the most important for truly getting to know someone. I also love that this novel did not stereotype any of the characters, and this applies to more than just the LGBT characters in the book. Martin, for example, could have easily been a one-note bully, but he actually forms a friendship with Simon as the novel progresses, eventually feeling extremely guilty about choosing to black-mail him.
I also loved that the novel portrayed not only completely normal LGBT relationships, but completely normal interracial relationships as well. I hate to say this in our day and age, but interracial relationships are far less common in literature than I would like. This book has absolutely no problems tackling “taboo” subjects, and I appreciate the author’s willingness to portray these issues honestly and without a filter. While some parents might take offense to the fact that there is cussing, alcohol, masturbation, and discussions about sex in this book, I found it all to be entirely normal. High school is a time period when many teens are questioning everything: their religion, their sexuality, and their identity as a whole. Books like this are instrumental in helping them to see that the struggles they are facing are entirely normal, and nothing to be ashamed of.
While it might not have been extremely realistic in conservative Georgia (where the novel takes place), I’m glad that Albertalli gave both Simon and Blue (who I will not reveal here for the sake of having a spoiler-free review) supportive parents. I think it’s incredibly important for teens questioning their sexuality to know that there are supportive adults out there, and many places for them to turn if their parents are unsupportive. Just like with heterosexual relationships, it’s also important for LGBT teens to see representation in the form of positive, healthy relationships between gay and lesbian teens; seeing themselves portrayed respectfully in literature is a monumental step towards normalizing their sexuality, something that is exceedingly important in today’s intolerant society. This book portrays a wonderful message about having the courage to be yourself, and it does so with both wit and humor. I loved every second of this book, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA literature everywhere!
Albertalli, B. (2015). Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. New York, NY: Balzer Bray.