By Tayla Courage
Becky Albertalli’s young adult novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” is a contemporary, gay love story that examines the perils of coming out and emphasizes the importance of being authentic to oneself.
This book follows 16-year-old Simon Spier, a mostly-closeted Atlanta teen who would rather save the drama for his part as “Fagin’s boy” in his school’s production of “Oliver.”
In fear of not fitting the mold his friends and family have created for him, Simon chooses to keep his sexuality to himself; that is, until he comes across a poem on his high school’s gossip Tumblr blog revealing that he is not, in fact, the school’s resident gay kid.
Simon, or Jacques as he is better known online, messages the poet parading under the username “Blue,” and the pair sparks an anonymous email-based relationship, which quickly goes awry when the emails fall into untrustworthy hands.
To keep his secret safe, Simon is blackmailed into playing the role of wingman for fellow theater kid, Martin, who inevitably outs Simon to the entire school.
Following one audaciously mean-spirited Tumblr post, Simon goes from coasting through junior year as a well-liked Harry Potter nerd to being the absolute center of attention.
While he is generally well-accepted by his peers — which is surprising considering the fact that he lives in Bible Belt, U.S.A. — people treat him as though he’s made this life-altering proclamation.
In actuality, Simon is the same person he’s always been, but this new-found attention makes him question why he, of all people, is constantly forced to “reintroduce himself to the universe.”
While there could have been a stronger dynamic between the people Simon calls his best friends, and the identity of his secret lover is blatantly obvious in retrospect, this book gives a realistic depiction of adolescent woes.
The book’s film adaptation “Love, Simon,” starring “Kings of Summer” actor Nick Robinson was released to theaters March 16.