Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

19547856by Becky Albertalli
YA Contemporary
5 of 5 stars
Debut novel: April 7, 2015

My lovely friend Akshaya read this book in three hours last fall (in the bookstore where she bought it, no less!) so I knew I had to add it to my list. I enjoyed this so much!

I’m a bit picky about my contemporary YA voices, especially if they’re meant to be sarcastic or humorous. It’s so hard to make that resonate (at least to me) and even harder to keep it up for the duration of 300+ pages. Simon’s voice is flawless! Distinct without being annoying, smart but not in an irritating way. I devoured this!

Simon hasn’t told anyone he’s gay—except a guy named Blue. They’ve emailed each other for weeks, and although they know each other’s most intimate secret, their identities are private. Until Marty tells Simon he found those emails, and will release screenshots of them to the school’s gossip Tumblr account if Simon doesn’t get Marty a date with Abby—the new girl who has become fast friends with Simon.

Filled with typical high school drama, friendship, smart observations, and sharp discussions about sexuality, this reads like a typical YA rom-com—except it’s about a boy falling in love with a boy. Extra points for sibling and parent relationships instead of the usual ghost family situation (i.e. protagonist has a family we just never see them on-screen). His frustration with his parents’ inability to accept his continuous change (which is just being human after all) is so accurate. Of course we try new foods, new music, new things—that’s life! I felt that so much.

There are beautiful themes in this book, but my favorites are these: 1. As Simon tries to discover Blue’s identity, he reminds us how little we can know our own family and friends without intentional conversations and interest outside ourselves. 2. White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – Another favorite for me. Gabi is Mexican-American caught between her own modern values and her family’s traditional (if contradictory) views. Excellent voice and character with so many high school struggles seen through fresh eyes. Hilarious, feminist, diverse. See my review here.
  • Luna by Julie Ann Peters – Regan’s brother Liam has a secret—her true identity is Luna. Regan has helped Liam keep his transsexuality from their family and friends, but now Liam is ready to introduce Luna to the world, and Regan isn’t ready for her life to change because of it. Not the best representation of a trans character but interesting.
  • George by Alex Gino – A better representation of a trans character. George knows she’s a girl, but isn’t sure how to get her friends and family to see her true self. But then her school begins casting for that year’s play,Charlotte’s Web, and if George could get Charlotte’s part, maybe that would help introduce herself to the world. See my review here.

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