Sunday, August 7, 2016

#30 [2016/CBR8] "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" by Becky Albertalli

I discovered Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015) by Becky Albertalli through a very positive Cannonball Review. Of course, by the time I picked it up to read it, I had forgotten what it was about and why I'd wanted to read it. When I first started, I thought it was all right but I wasn't too excited. I didn't have an immediate interest in reading more about how Simon spends his time after high school hanging out with his best friends. This changed quickly as I continued reading. Simon wriggled his way right into my heart until I was crying with indignation and happiness on his behalf.

Simon Speir, a junior in high school knows that he is gay but hasn't told anyone about it, including his family and best friends--except for his mysterious e-mail pen pal who goes by the name of Blue. Simon started writing to Blue after he saw an anonymous post on his school's Tumblr gossip page that spoke to him. (I am too old to know if it is normal for high schools to have a Tumblr gossip page. It seems like a bad idea to me.) Unfortunately for Simon, another student, Martin, sees one of his e-mails to Blue, finds out his secret, and tries to make Simon set him up with another one of Simon's friends. Simon navigates normal coming of age problems, tries to find out the identity of Blue, and deals with the blackmail by Martin.

The book alternates between Simon and Blue's e-mails and a straightforward first-person narration. Immediately, my favorite part of the book were the e-mails between Simon and Blue. The sweet, innocent romance that grows slowly and naturally between the two had me sighing out loud. It perfectly captures the hope and excitement of first love. Both characters were so honest and vulnerable that I could not help getting caught up in their story. I have not read a love story that made me so genuinely happy for a couple in a long time.

Simon does have to deal with his sexuality in this book, and his thoughts and feelings regarding coming out are a lot more complicated than just fear of rejection. In fact, it was refreshing that acceptance of Simon's sexual orientation was not really an issue.Yet he still has to deal with Martin's manipulation, some bullying, and changing people's expectations of who he is. This was a quick read and consistently entertaining. I would recommend this book for the sweet romance between Simon and Blue.

I did figure out who Blue was almost as soon as his character appeared in person in the book. He was described as quiet, smart, and cute. Seriously, it couldn't possibly have been anyone else. It didn't ruin anything for me, but I was curious if that was Albertalli's intention. She could have described him differently or paid less attention to him, but then you'd wonder if the two would really make a good couple in the end.

Finally, this is bothering me, and I think I'm missing something. Shouldn't it be homo sapiens' agenda? Why is there no apostrophe in the title?

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