We had a Holiday hiatus for book club, but we’re bringing it back STRONG (and late) in the new year.  Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli our favorite books of 2015 and was universally adored by all our book club attendees. Find out why after the jump.

From the book flap:

 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.

 

Overall:  We begin this book with a blackmail conversation and while any other book would take a dark turn at this juncture, Albertalli twists the reader’s expectations into something so unique and lovely I had a hard time putting this book down.  I believe this is all owed to Albertalli’s spirited and real portrayal of Simon Spier.  Simon is the very center of the blackmail, of his friends, his family, and, most importantly, of this story.  He begins the story as a closeted high school junior active in Drama Club and in a secret email correspondence with another boy from his school only known as “Blue.”  Blue is Simon’s only  gay support system and may be the only person Simon can be totally honest with. It’s definitely not the only place Simon can be hilarious, which is great for us, the reader, because this book is chock-full of 2015 wit.  But while it’s a very contemporary YA novel, it’s also timeless.  This story will stay with you long-after you read this novel and you will find time-and-time again that you can recommend to friends of all ages.  For these reasons and many, many, many more, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is our #1 book of 2015.

Judge a Book by its Cover:  The cover art was not my favorite when I first encountered it, which was why it took me so very long to pick up the book.  However, after reading the book, and understanding what it was about, it’s become something that makes me smile fondly every time I see it.

Me Talk Pretty:  Albertalli has taken a complex problem, being gay and coming out, expanded it into a culturally pervasive statement about sexuality and gender and ethnicity and laid a road map for all authors to write about these issues on how to care for the topic without overtly creating an “issues” book.  Her writing style is fresh and easy and the story passes by before you know it.  You’ll want to re-read it as soon as your done to find all the nooks and crannies of her seemingly effortless writing talent.

It should be noted that after reading this book, you’ll never be able to pass up the opportunity to add the following into conversations:

  • Shoreo
  • oooookaaaaaayyyyyyyyy
  • Simon Logic
  • Boom Boom Pow

Audiobook Narration:  Carmen:  I defy you to listen to the audio book and NOT hear Michael Crouch as the Simon in your head.

Don’t Believe the Hype:  Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda has been longlisted for the  National Book Foundation’s Book Award , Young People’s Literature, and is, most recently, a William C. Morris Award Winner.  These are prestigious awards are well-merited.  We expected to see a lot more prizes coming Albertalli’s way.  Just as a personal aside, 100% of the people I’ve recommended this book to have absolutely loved it.  It’s worth the hype and then some.

Bizarre Love Triangle:  It was fleeting, VERY fleeting, but there is a part so confusing and mystifying that I had to put the book down and scream “NO!” for about 20 minutes.  Luckily for me, it turned out to be Simon Logic, but, OMG, Becky had me really upset there for a while.  If you read the book and want to talk offline about it, then please comment below (I don’t want to spoil it for non-readers up here).

Open tab/Last call:  Simon and Blue and Becky Albertalli, especially, have a very special place in my heart.  While shots are not in my drinking repertoire, I’d go to a bar in midtown and take unlimited Triaminic shots for Becky FOR LIFE.

Oh, and best news of all, Simon is headed to the BIG SCREEN!

I purchased my own copy of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli at my local bookstore, Inkwood Books, and you should, too.  It was published by Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen and is 320 pages.

~Carmen

 

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