Books

Book 528: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

Of course after I saw the trailer for Love, Simon (embedded at the end of this post) I HAD to read the book they adapted it from. Who doesn’t love an awkward teen romance, especially an LGBT one? Seriously, just go watch the trailer so adorkable!

I’m not sure if I’m in love with Simon or in love with Simon’s hopelessness. I’m sad that books like this weren’t around when I was a teenager, but also so incredibly happy that books like this exist for teens! Was this a literary wonder? No. Was this a beautiful coming of age/first love story that anyone could identify with regardless of their sexuality? Yes.

I think however what makes the book a great read are all the minor characters and the realistic situations Albertalli puts her characters into. I mean who hasn’t tabled in slash fanfiction?

“And Leah’s also into slash fanfiction, which got me curious enough to poke around the internet and find some last summer. I couldn’t believe how much there was to choose from: Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy hooking up in thousands of ways in every broom closet at Hogwarts. I found the ones with decent grammar and stayed up reading all night. It was a weird couple of weeks. That was the summer I taught myself how to do laundry. There are some socks that shouldn’t be washed by your mom.” (21)

Those last two sentences are hysterically perfect. But even more so than this, she leans into the teenage angst that all teenagers go through, but she doesn’t let it over power the book (I’m looking at you Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). There are plenty of opportunities from unrequited love to bullying that actually happens to the what ifs of self-hating that Albertalli could’ve taken this serious, but lighthearted novel in the wrong direction.

Albertalli clearly has experience working with teens and has turned that experience into a wonderful novel. I teared up a bit when I got to the final sentence of her acknowledgments:

“…and to the extraordinary LGBT and gender-nonconforming children and teens in my life (and your extraordinary families): you blow me away with your wisdom, humor, creativity, and courage. You probably already guessed this, but I wrote this book for you.” (304, acknowledgments)

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t elated but also disappointed in the happily ever after the book portrays. It keeps that touch of teen awkwardness while simultaneously being cloyingly sweet:

“And I can’t even describe it. It’s stillness and pressure and rhythm and breathing. We can’t figure out our noses at first, but then we do, and then I realize my eyes are still open. So I shut them. And his fingertips graze the nape of my neck, in constant quiet motion.” (276)

I’m not begrudging anyone this book, because it shows a wonderful outcome of what happens when you have a loving support network. I grew up in a time when 95% of LGBT books ended with the LGBT character alone, dead, or diseased, or a combination of the three. Seriously, the number of books I read and will re-read at some point in the future almost always focus on the loneliness of LGBT teens or even adults. What Albertelli did in showing that even with the perfect family and friends, you still face societal pressure about what is and isn’t normal and about who you can and can’t love.  I do hope that with books like this, we’re seeing an actual shift in society when it comes to LGBT identity and acceptance.

Recommendation: YES! This was a wonderful read that I thoroughly enjoyed. It could’ve gone wrong on so many levels but didn’t. I’m also really excited about the movie coming out in March of 2018! Seriously, watch the trailer it’s like me trying to flirt.

Opening Line: “It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don’t notice I’m being blackmailed.”

Closing Line: “But maybe this is a big deal. Maybe it’s a holy freaking huge awesome deal. Maybe I want it to be.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)

Additional Quotes from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
“He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to.” (18)

“Nothing is worse than the secret humiliation of being insulted by proxy.” (24)

“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 all over again.” (56)

“As a side note, 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. I’m just saying.” (146)

“I guess I’m getting a little fucking tired of this. I’m trying not to let it touch me. I shouldn’t care if stupid people call me a stupid word, and I shouldn’t care what people think of me. But I always care.” (220)

“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.” (269)

 

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4 thoughts on “Book 528: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli”

  1. This is one of my daughter’s favourite books. She adores it. Which is saying something, because she doesn’t normally go for contemporary fiction – she’s usually more into sci-fi/fantasy. So Albertalli must have done something right. She likes The Upside of Unrequited, too.
    The movie looks good. I like the point she makes about straight being the default. Maybe someday it won’t be.

    Liked by 1 person

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