“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.” Simon Spier
I’ve been hearing a lot about Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda over the past several months and it’s been on my wishlist for a while now. After learning that it’s going to be made into a movie called “Love, Simon”, I moved it to the top of my TBR list.
This is an excellent story about a teenage boy who has to deal with the aftermath of coming out to everyone at his high school when another student finds out his secret and threatens to blackmail him. Here is 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 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.
Incredibly funny and poignant, this twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming out story — wrapped in a geek romance—is a knockout of a debut novel by Becky Albertalli.
Never walk away from your computer
Simon learned this the hard way. He walks away from his computer for just a moment, forgetting to close down his email program, which, unfortunately, gets into the wrong hands. Another student, Martin Addison, walks by Simon’s abandoned computer and discovers that Simon has been anonymously corresponding with a boy named “Blue” and the two have been discussing their lives, including being gay. Up to this point, Blue is the only one who knows that Simon is gay.
Simon and Blue met via an anonymous Tumblr post and since then, have been emailing each other on almost a daily basis. Though Blue goes to the same school as Simon, neither of them know the other’s identity, thus creating a safe atmosphere to discuss those serious issues that they can’t so easily talk about with anyone else.
Martin takes a screenshot of the emails and then blackmails Simon into getting his friend, Abby, to date him.
The Blackmail Begins
Holding up his end of the bargain, Simon invites Martin (who is seriously annoying, by the way) to hang out with him and Abby on several occasions, fearful that Martin will reveal Simon’s secret to the entire school. At this point of the book, even Simon’s best friend Leah doesn’t know that he’s gay and he wants to keep it that way — at least for the time being. Fearful that Blue would terminate his friendship with Simon if he found out that someone had taken a screenshot of their email, Simon keeps this new secret to himself as well.
What worked for me in this book was that Simon didn’t struggle with being gay. He knew he was gay and fully accepted himself. He never tried to deny who he was. What he did struggle with was how his loved ones might potential react to the news.
I loved reading the email exchanges between Simon and Blue, especially once they began to become more flirtatious. There was a teasing yet caring tone to their emails, leading to an amazing build-up between the two of them that wasn’t rushed or forced. It was obvious that has the days and weeks past, the connection between the two of the deepened as their friendship moved organically into something bigger. These two characters really came to life for me as their relationship blossomed and I quickly became enamored with the both of them, wishing and hoping for a happy ending for the both of them.
As with any online relationship, there are the fears that crop up before we meet the person: Will they like us? What if they don’t find me attractive? What if I don’t find him/her attractive? All of these things run through Simon’s mind, making the situation all the more realistic, and I found myself having the same fears as Simon. As a ready, I wanted Simon and Blue to have their HEA.
Coming Out Slowly
As their relationship deepened (though it was still anonymous), they both decided that perhaps it was time to come out. First Blue to his family and then Simon to his friend Abby, leading them to discuss the fear and uncertainty they felt before finally letting the cat out of the bag. It’s apparent that it’s their feelings for each that gives them the courage to take the first steps in the coming out process.
Luckily for the both of them, Blue’s parents were supportive as was Abby. Simon still not quite ready to tell anyone else though. He wants to come out on his terms at his own pace, though he does plan on telling his own parents soon.
A Forced Coming Out
Of course, Simon’s secret gets out (I’m not giving out any spoilers here – we learn this fact in the blurb), and everything changes for Simon. Within one day, everyone at school learns that Simon Spier is gay — and given that we know Blue is a student at Simon’s High School, it’s not too hard to figure out that he’s learned Simon’s identity as well. In fact, during an email exchange, Blue states “I think I know who you are”.
Simon still doesn’t know the mysterious Blue’s identity, however, and it’s amusing to observe Simon as he studies the boys at his school, trying to guess which one of them could be Blue. He finally thinks he narrows it down to two boys. Now he just needs to figure out which one it is.
Now I will say that there are some clues as to Blue’s identity sprinkled throughout the book through the author does a great job of throwing us off track and making it difficult to guess. I didn’t quite guess the identity of Blue as much as hoped.
Coming out is never easy, especially when it wasn’t your decision. We see this in the aftermath: friendships are strained (possibly lost) for good and relationships are threatened. The author did a fine job of portraying the possible fallout for a high school student being forced out of the closet. It was also cringe-worthy seeing that someone could be as cruel as Martin (though not surprising — he was a right jerk).
Of course, Simon is devastated. Not only is he upset because his friendships are on shaky grounds, he feels robbed, resentful and violated. Coming out was something he wanted to do on his own terms, and because of his blackmailer, that decision was taken away from him . . .and then there’s Blue.
The Big Reveal
So do we eventually learn Blue’s identity? If we didn’t, it certainly would have been a frustrating book – the kind you’d throw across the room. Luckily, it didn’t come to that, and we do learn Blue’s identity — and wow! What a sweet scene!
I’m guessing that it’d be difficult for many people to read this scene without tearing up. I know I was reaching for the tissues (but it a good way!).
I loved this book on so many levels, and it completely stole my heart. This book expertly showed the struggles that not just a gay teenager but that most teenagers go through on a daily basis. The book is told from Simon’s first-person point of view, and I found him lovable, funny, witty, intelligent, likable and brave; and though somewhat flawed (as we all are), he’s an all-around great kid. But most of all, I found him true to himself.
I could relate to so much of what he was going through, and in this way, it felt that his character was genuine and believable. In fact, all of the characters in the book were well-rounded and realistic, and I enjoyed the dynamic between them.
Simon vs the Home Sapiens Agenda is a sweet, tender and heartwarming coming-of-age story about friendship, first love, coming out and the power of friendship and family that has an appeal to everyone, both teens, and adults. I can tell you that this particular adult loved it. Though the book does deal with some tougher issues such as bullying, betrayal, and misunderstandings, the positive aspects well outweigh the negative.
This book has definitely made my top reads list and is one of those books that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling at the end. A truly satisfying read. I definitely give this book 5 stars!
You can check out Simon vs The Homo Spiens Agenda HERE