100-Character Breakdown: A funny, heartfelt, and insightful debut. A joy to read with an intricate story and deep characters.
Genre: Young adult, LGBTQ
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (April 2015)
Although sixteen-year-old Simon is in the closet, it isn’t because he’s struggling with being gay. He just doesn’t want everyone to make it a big deal. He doesn’t want things to change. He enjoys his day-to-day life with his embarrassing family, his best friends Nick and Leah, his role in the musical, and his back-and-forth emails with Blue, his anonymous, virtual crush. When Simon emails Blue on a library computer one day, he forgets to logout. Martin, another student in the musical, sees the email and uses it to blackmail Simon into setting him up with his friend Abby. As Simon’s life grows increasingly complicated, he is falling harder for Blue, who also attends his Georgia high school. Simon wants to avoid change and drama, but as his junior year progresses, that starts to seem unavoidable.
Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a funny and heartfelt debut. There are times of heartache and pain for Simon and the cast of well-drawn characters, and these emotional moments provide a perfect balance to the otherwise lighthearted book. Chapters of Simon and Blue’s emails are interspersed between Simon’s traditional narrative; both types of chapters are a joy to read. As Simon and Blue’s relationship becomes deeper, more flirtatious, and more complex, Simon’s narrative successfully explores his own conflicts and those of his friends. While the novel is told from Simon’s perspective, Albertalli is still able to create depth in the subplots of other characters, and she wraps up these subplots beautifully by the end of the book. The blend of Simon’s story and these other plots results in an intricate and insightful novel. The complex drama of the novel makes it a page turner, but it’s the relatable and lovable protagonist that will captivate readers.