Monday, 4 July 2016

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Pages: 303
Date: July 4, 2016
Details: Young Adult
Library / Paperback

The blurb:

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.

My thoughts:

“…don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it should be this big, awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever.”

Fabulous, adorable, touching, captivating and delightful are just some of the superlatives I want to use to describe Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

*Deep breath*

So yes, I loved this book. The story is sweet, cute and poignant. I loved the normality of it all. Simon is a teenager coming to terms with growing up and finding his way in the world. Being gay and at some point having to come out is only one of many ‘issues’ he’s dealing with. I mean there’s also his ‘overly enthusiastic and interested in their kids’ parents, how to deal with alcohol and, of course, the whole mystery of Blue not to mentioned being blackmailed.

I loved that reading the book made me feel exactly as living with a teenager used to do. It is an emotional roller coaster on which love can turn into hate and happiness into despair in moments. Everything is huge until it’s turned into nothing at all and the whole experience of just living is as exhilarating as it is confusing.

“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 again.”

Of course, what Simon doesn’t realise but the reader is all too aware of, is that Simon is also constantly introducing himself to himself. He’s discovering sides to himself he never knew he had, he does things he couldn’t have imagined himself doing, and experiencing feelings he doesn’t quite know how to deal with.

“Do you ever feel locked into yourself? I’m not sure if I’m making sense here. I guess what I mean is that sometimes it seems like everyone knows who I am except me.

Spending time with Simon, his family, and his friends was a delight. Sure there were moments when my heart ached for him, but overall reading this book was a joy filled experience. It was wonderful to read a book about teenagers without violence or outright bullying. It made a nice chance to read a book in which the parents were accepting and loving, if maybe a bit awkward at times.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens agenda made me smile, had me laughing out loud, brought (both happy and sad) tears to my eyes and left me feeling good about life. And occasionally it presented me with little gems of writing.

“Being secure in your masculinity isn’t the same as being straight.”

This book made me so freaking grateful I did the whole teenage thing ages ago and managed to survive it more or less unscathed—even if it didn’t feel like that at the time. But then, I guess that’s exactly what this book is about and the reason it’s such a fabulous read. Which one of us over the age of fourteen doesn’t recognise these thoughts, doubts, fears and feelings? Gay, straight or otherwise inclined, we’ve all battled these demons.

In case you somehow missed the point I’m trying to make, here it is: I HIGHLY recommend this book to any reader over the age of 14. J

“People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows.”

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