Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Although Simon believes that coming out as gay isn’t going to be a big problem in his life, he is hesitant to do it. His family will still love and support him, but they make a big deal out of absolutely everything the kids do. He doesn’t want the attention and discussions. Since he attends school in the state of Georgia, he knows that some kids (not all) may bully him. While he stays in the closet, he does have a secret crush on an anonymous guy (known as Blue)–one that Simon knows goes to his high school because he found this heartthrob on the school’s underground Tumblr.
The two boys email one another in order to keep their anonymity. Very early in the novel, Simon makes the mistake of not closing down his computer at school. A guy named Martin sees what Simon has written to Blue and puts it together. Now Martin has a crush on one of Simon’s best friends–Abby. So Martin decides to blackmail Simon. Either Simon causes things to happen and makes sure that Martin is around Abby or Martin will out Simon to the school.
So while Simon is not super concerned about himself, he is angry that someone else is trying to take away his autonomy–coming out when and where he wants to should be his choice. He is also worried about how this will affect ‘Blue’ and his relationship with him. What if Blue finds out how careless Simon was with the emails?
All this leads to the usual angst and humor. However, Simon and Blue’s online conversations, as well as Simon’s relationships with his parents, two sisters, and many friends are beautifully crafted. Simon realizes that everyone has some sort of ‘coming out’ issue in life, even if it isn’t always as significant as his. As Simon missteps, he accidentally causes pain to others. As Martin missteps, he causes Simon significant grief.
High school housekeeping: Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book just about every teen will enjoy. Simon’s troubles are very real, and–because Simon is able to make a larger connection between his life issues and the issues of everyone he knows–any reader will sympathize with him. Meanwhile, there are many fully-formed characters in Simon’s friends and family. Even Martin, the blackmailer, is not a one-dimensional stereotype of a bully. He has issues and concerns that drive him into his misguided plans.
Another thing I loved about this novel is that the issues that all the characters have are dealt with. So if a reader deeply identifies with any of Simon’s family or friends, s/he will enjoy a satisfying resolution to all the problems that have arisen for that character in the course of the novel.
Really–just a lot of fun, very sweet. Another one that I will get more copies of for the library to use in book talks and literature circles. Happy reading!