Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Date: April 2015
Format: Paperback (303 pages)
Synopsis: 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.
One of my best friends and fellow book lover Stefani (Caught Read Handed) did everything but cross the Atlantic and hit me over the head with this book to get me to read it, and I’m really glad she did! When I reached the end of the last page I was left with a really warm, happy, fuzzy feeling that lasted for hours afterwards. It was a really satisfying read.
I was rooting for Simon from the beginning and loved how earnest and genuine he was, particularly in his emails with Blue. I really felt for him and just wanted to hug him and be his friend (it’s a mark of a good writer when you start having these feelings for fictional characters).
His life becomes very stressful and chaotic later in the novel and I think that many teenagers would have given up if faced with the difficulties Simon has to deal with, but one of my favourite things about him was that, despite all this, all he wants is to meet Blue and be with him. His integrity and strength of character really shines through.
His sense of humour is great too, which is something I always look for in any book that I read. No matter what circumstances characters find themselves in, I really enjoy humour in the face of adversity.
I have to admit, given that there wasn’t a huge number of characters, I assumed that it would be relatively easy to guess Blue’s identity, however I’m happy to say that all my guesses were completely wrong and it was a pleasant (and adorable) surprise when they finally met.
YA books can be a lifeline for teenagers struggling with very difficult issues, in this case sexuality, and I think Becky Albertalli has done them a great service by writing this book. They have to grow up in a world where they’re bombarded with images and ideas of who they “should” be, and feeling like they have to live up to these unrealistic goals means that they don’t get to just enjoy being themselves, which is something everyone should be able to do.
This quote in particular really stood out to me. I wish the world thought like Simon does:
“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.”
Damn straight, Simon. Damn straight.
Overall Rating: My bookworm rating system is explained here.
Other Works by this Author: This is Albertalli’s first novel.