Today, I’m here to talk (really, gush) about my love for Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (also to be referred to as Simon vs. or just Simon).
Simon is one of the best books I have read in recent memory. I love it so much that I’ve read it four times since I bought it and I sometimes need to force myself to not read it and instead focus on books I own that I haven’t read yet (I have LOTS of those).
However, this book is one of my favourites for several reasons, especially because of the realness of some of what happens/excellent points that Becky raises that I think literally everyone should be talking about.
But before I get into why I love Simon too much, here’s a little blurb on what the book is about, for anyone who hasn’t read it (yet… because everyone should):
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.
Ok, so first, this book is like, SO CUTE. I mean it. Like, I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m going to gush over this book because the story that Becky Albertalli has blessed us with is just all kinds of adorable. Simon is probably one of my favourite characters that I’ve read about in recent memory. His emails to Blue actually kinda make me squeeeeeee. He’s not perfect, but no one is, and that’s ok. But seriously, the book says things like this.
And if that doesn’t melt your heart, than I don’t know what else will.
But also, this book is so real and touches on some mega-important issues, especially for young LGBTQ+ people who aren’t out yet. As the blurb above says, Simon is being blackmailed by Martin, a boy who saw his emails to the mysterious Blue. Martin threatens to out Simon if he doesn’t do his bidding and play wingman to set Martin up with Simon’s friend Abby.
I don’t want to get too spoiler-y here, so I won’t say much other than things get resolved in the end. However, I have to praise Becky for including this because I believe it’s so important. No doubt, we’ve all heard stories about what can happen when someone who is still closeted gets outed by someone else. LGBTQ+ youth have some of the highest suicide rates and I think it’s important for stories to touch on the reality that sometimes people are shitty and out others and there are ways to handle it that don’t involve taking your life. There are wonderful resources out there, like The Trevor Project in the U.S., and Kids Help Phone in Canada.
Another excellent point that gets raised in Simon vs. is why is straight and white always assumed to be the default? Like, seriously?! We now live in 2016, and if there’s one thing that my previous posts on coming out and the reasons I started this blog have shown, it’s that LGBTQ+ people still have a long, long way to go before we are fully embraced in society, and I think that one thing that needs to happen in order for us to get there is for people to stop assuming that straight is the default. Or, as Simon says, “There shouldn’t even be a default!”.
All seriousness aside, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is an adorably cute, sometimes awkward love story that touches on real issues. I cannot thank Becky enough for writing this incredible story (and believe me, I’ve thanked her several times… we Tweet a fair bit). I think that Simon should be required reading for everyone, and I try to tell as many people as possible to read this book.
I love this book so much that I even used some of my birthday money to order a signed/personalized copy. Becky kindly included a wonderful message that made my day… week… month… year… life. I’m so excited to see what she comes up with next! Becky’s second book, The Upside of Unrequited, comes out in Spring 2017. She recently signed on to do two more books, including a Simon spin-off told from the perspective of his friend Leah.
If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s beautiful souls like Becky Albertalli, and wonderful stories like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, that go a long way to making this world a more loving, open, and embracing place. As long as stories like Simon’s exist, I want to read them, love them, and stand on the mountains to yell to the world about them.
If you haven’t read this story yet, please do. Go buy a copy or borrow it from a local library. Or, if you know me personally, you can borrow one of mine (I now have two).