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books for teens

‘Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda’ Is A Toast to Individuality

Romance is in the air when Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli opens. Sixteen-year-old Simon has had crushes in the past, but they were nothing like this. This is the real thing. With Blue, it can’t possibly be anything else.

But there are two problems at this stage. The first: Simon knows Blue only via email. The two met online, and, though they go to the same school, Blue is very private and doesn’t want to let their relationship out of the virtual world just yet. Also, both are a just a little worried that their personalities may not match as beautifully in real life as they do online.

Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky AlbertalliThis, however, is not as enormous a problem as the one that makes Simon quiver: He’s gay. So is Blue. And neither has the faintest idea how to come out of the closet as yet. They must tell their families – but how? They must tell their friends – but omigod! They must tell everyone including possible homophobes – oh gosh, that is terrifying.

It’s even more terrifying for Simon because, just as the book opens, he’s being blackmailed by a classmate who read his e-mail after Simon forgot to log out of the school’s computer. The blackmailer doesn’t say he’s blackmailing Simon. But there’s a hint of menace in the way he casually mentions Blue while asking Simon to help him get close to a girl he likes.

Blue is so very private about his identity. Will Simon lose him before their romance has even properly begun?

Here, I shall tell you straight up that I love this story for kids and I’m sure that you will too, whether you’re gay or straight or asexual or unromantic or whatever you may want to call yourself. Naturally, the book is mainly about Simon and the way he negotiates the obstacles on his path to true love. But it’s also about his friends, his sisters, Blue’s fears, Simon’s father, who constantly cracks gay jokes, homophobes, self-acceptance, best friends and everything everyone goes through one way or another in school.

It’s also about coming out about who you are as a person, whatever you think you may be, in a society composed of people with a very narrow agenda. “White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default,” Simon writes to Blue. “There shouldn’t even be a default.” So, it isn’t only being gay that makes Simon decide to challenge the homo sapiens agenda.

This is why this book, out of the many books for teens and preteens, is such a delight even without the romance (which, by the way, is so beautiful that three weeks after I finished the book, I still get a lump in my throat when I think of it). Here’s what Becky Albertalli really tells you through Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda: Be who you are. And then you’ll be free.

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