My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
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 know there has been mad love for this book all over the blogosphere, and I think it’s both wonderful and curious that a book that really focuses on the little moments in a teen’s life – whether it’s watching The Bachelor with your family, or playing video games with your best friends, or just lying around listening to music – is so lauded. While I’m not at my “perfect book” place with Simon, I do feel that it deserves all the praise it gets for portraying a pretty normal teen’s experience so authentically.
“And it’s funny, because I don’t really think of myself as lonely. But there was something so familiar about the way Blue described the feeling…Like the way you can memorize someone’s gestures but never know their thoughts. And the feeling that people are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows.
The way you can feel so exposed anyway.”
Thoughts like this are the reason why I could connect to Simon. Gay or straight, Simon felt so real and so much like me as a teen that the bigger issues he dealt with during the book – I could connect to them, even though I was fortunate enough to never have to go through coming out or bullying because of my sexual orientation.
“But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”
It’s a book that really understands teen self-discovery, and how funny and quirky and painful it can be. And it’s the kind of book that refuses to let any character be a stock character, because the people in Simon’s life really matter to Simon, and his nature is to care about and listen to others. From Nick and Leah, Simon’s oldest and best friends, who are in a sort of love triangle with his new friend Abby, to Martin, the boy who finds out about Simon’s sexual orientation in the early stages of the book, to Simon’s wonderful, trying-to-be-hip parents, to his sibling relationships – as much as this book is about Simon, it’s also about the friends and family he surrounds himself with and how that shapes and changes him.
“It’s a dementor robe over my clothes. I think you’ll survive.”
“What’s a dementor?”
I mean, I can’t even. “Nora, you are no longer my sister.”
“So it’s some Harry Potter thing,” she says.
And a big part of the real-ness is that stomach-dropping feeling that Simon gets when he corresponds with Blue. It’s a feeling that I GUARANTEE that you will get – the heart-swelling, chest-pounding, OMG-he’s-so-perfect-and-I-need-to-be-with-him feeling of your first crush, then your first more-than-crush.
The great thing about this relationship is that you really get to see it all through the letters and through how important Blue and Simon make each other. It’s not just that they happen to be the only gay people that they know (although that might be true). It’s that they’re open to baring their souls through words, and you see, through their letters, how their relationship slowly develops into more, and how much they “get” each other.
I feel like this is the swooniest I’ve gotten over a fictional relationship in a long time. And I have to applaud Becky Albertalli for doing me a solid and writing what I think is an absolutely stellar back third of the book. The build-up is unbelievable, but for me, endings matter, and I think she knocked this one out of the park and into the stars.
Candy Land: Man, do Simon and Blue talk about candy and cookies a lot. Be warned: you will need Oreos and Reese’s Pieces for this reading.
The Play’s The Thing: Throughout the book, Simon is going to rehearsals for a school production of Oliver! – Albertalli’s portrayal of the crazy antics of theatre kids is totally what my high school productions felt like.
Book Theme Song:
The Final Word:
The best word to describe Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is “cute.” You will want to hug this book at the end and smile and swoon because it is full of all the goodness in life. It’s a true contemporary YA in that I almost felt like nothing was happening because I was just living life with Simon, going through his issues with him, and feeling the swoons of a new relationship. It’s that slice-of-life-ness that really elevates SimonVs from just another contemporary to the kind of book that you’ll want to read again and again.
SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA comes out today. Will you be picking up a copy of this adorable contemporary? Are you an Oreos fan? How much do you feel that family and friends should be part of shaping and changing your life? If you were in Simon’s situation, would you try to find out who Blue was right away?