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Monday, January 25, 2016

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Guys, this book. This. Book. I read it on a Monday evening when Mike was out of town, finishing up around 10pm. The next morning I got up for work at 5:30, as usual, and sat and re-read the last couple chapters. All week I fought the urge to re-read large portions, if not the entire book.  I literally can't remember the last book that made me feel this way. It was SO good. I'd like to just tell you all to go read it and leave it at that, but I won't.

Here's the summary, from Amazon:
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.

Ok, so this doesn't even begin to describe the plot. Simon is gay, and he has an online friend named Blue, who is also gay.  Simon and Blue go to the same school but because neither one is out, they don't know who the other is. In a horrifying turn of events one of their classmates, Martin, discovers Simon's email, and uses it to blackmail Simon into helping him date Abby, a friend of Simon's. Then there's a love triangle with Simon's best friends (Nick and Leah) and Abby, a high school musical, some sisters, and parents who are remarkably present for a YA novel.

Simon and Blue have this terrific email flirtation going on. They both are trying to figure out who the other is, while at the same time are worried that if they knew the magic would be lost. It is adorable and sweet with just the exact right level of teenage sexual flirting, it's never taken anywhere inappropriate, and actual real thoughts about sex, beyond flirting, are vague and clearly futuristic. This could be any two teens, girls and/or boys, falling in love for the first time. The emails are so perfectly written and the responses are so good. Throw into this the added stress of not being publicly out, and for Simon, the blackmail of being outed before he's ready and it's emotional on a level most of us don't have to think about.

Each chapter opens with a handful of email between Simon and Blue, and then the rest is the narrative of the story from Simon's perspective. He worries about all the things he's juggling, he thinks about Blue, he is furious at Martin, and when things start to unravel, he handles it all in a very realistic manner. He's a kid and it shows but he's also wrestling with some big things. The books has the absolutely perfect tone to convey everything that's going on, while still being a sweet story of two people anxiously falling in love. The ultimate resolution is adorable and perfect and my heart was squeeing in my chest both times I read it.

I recognize that some people will be put off by it being the love story of two boys. Honestly, I'm not sure what to say to those people. They will be missing a really, really terrific book. I highly recommend this one, and I can tell you now that it's likely to be at the top of my best of 2016 list (if I still made those lists) and moves right in my top ten of all time.


  1. This book has been on my radar but I've never really been interested in it because the characters are teenagers but how can I resist with this review? I'll have to give it a try.

  2. Moves right to your top ten of all time? Well then, damn, I'm definitely going to have to pick it up!


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