I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7th, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
a guide, clearly followed by Becky Albertalli
Step One: Create a main character. Let’s say his name is Simon and he’s gay but very much still in the closet. Make him witty and lovable, with a compelling voice and keen observations about how sexuality is perceived in society. Maybe make him a drama nerd, for extra relatability points. He’ll steal Debby’s heart in an instant.
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. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky AlbertalliStep Two: Give Simon the cutest of cute love interests – an anonymous email pen pal who goes to his school and is also a closeted homosexual. The mystery of this love interest’s identity will have Debby giggling madly and once she hones in on her primary suspect, she won’t be able to stop reading until it’s confirmed. (She’ll likely be right, but will be 100% delighted by the whole execution.) Simon and his pen pal crush should have awesome email exchanges about both meaningful things (like how to come out, how to deal with family stuff), but also awesome bantery things (like the importance of keeping to a strict Oreo diet).
Step Three: Add in great secondary characters – friends and family – to show healthy relationships, love, and acceptance. These will work to illustrate the issues involved in coming out – that no matter how accepting people may seem, it’s still absolutely terrifying and awkward to declare your “identity” when you’re still finding yourself. But don’t forget to add enough comedy and bantery dialogue, because these work to keep the tone of the book light in the best possible way.
Step Four: Be sure to throw in classically awkward high school things like fights between friends, crushes, sleepovers, being grounded, drinking, discovering slash fanfiction, talent shows, musicals, Homecoming, football games, dress up weeks, etc. These add a sense of authenticity and will transport Debby back to her high school days and make her giggle with all the nostalgia feels.
Step Five: Rock that romance. Make sure to show how Simon is mostly in love with a personality but is still attracted physically to many other guys while he’s not sure who his pen pal actually is. Make Simon fall in love from the inside out, and Debby will just be a flailing ball of squee. Don’t be afraid to get a little physical (and a little awkward) at the end – with the right amount of sweetness, it will keep Debby smiling for days.
Step Six: Sit back, relax, and watch the feels consume Debby. Then pat yourself on the back. Good job.