“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.”
Got to say Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a completely charming book (if not a greatly titled one). As a middle aged gay man with no kids, it might be hard for me to completely understand the teens presented here, the exploration of their daily lives (especially in the age of social media), but some things, some basic real-life tropes, are always identifiable no matter what age you are.
Simon, our main protagonist, is well developed and is presented in a very relatable sort of way. And while he’s dealing with being gay and trying to figure out how to come out to his friends and family, he’s not too much a stereotype (though author Becky Albertalli lays on the emo music love a little thick –he may look like any “normal” teenager, but his musical tastes do run in the obsessive, dark, and bit depressing route). Still, like me, he’s a bit cynical and I liked that. I saw me a little bit here and there in Simon. His family life, while a bit hyper-realistic, is finely drawn. His parents are very liberal, but also strict in some ways (and there is a tender moment when his mother sits down and talks to him about how she misses the openness of all her children –what a parent must go through when they finally realize that their once talkative children are growing up and don’t want to be around anymore). I did find the mystery of who Blue was fun, and it kept me reading. I did not guess who the boy was, so I may need to revisit the book to see if the author dropped any obvious clues.
I did get distracted by Simon’s friend Abby, as I kept thinking about Jay Bell’s Abby from Something Like Summer. They’re two totally different characters, but they do share the same name and ethnic origin.
Also, it did take me a little bit to get into the story, as well, as the author quickly introduced so many characters and I had trouble keeping them straight at times, but that’s only a small quibble. Also, the cover of the book is pretty horrible, but then maybe I don’t understand modern publishing towards young adults.
There will be a motion picture version, called Love Simon, of this book coming from 20th Century Fox next spring, which is a pretty big thing. This is a major studio releasing a gay romantic comedy/drama and it’ll be interesting to see if the mainstream audience –beyond the gay community- will embrace this love story between two guys. Sure it’s directed by super producer Greg Berlanti (the entire DC line-up on the CW) and stars some well know actors, but this film may end being a test rat to see if gay themed films can break-out of the independat film world they’ve existed in for a long, long time