Despite being in a society that is more accepting of various sexual orientations, the media and culture that surround us are still heteronormative, which makes it difficult for LGBT people to come out. This situation is what Simon Spier experiences in the popular young adult book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. A gay high schooler, Simon is in love with an online boy that goes by Blue. His relationship with Blue is a secret until one day his classmate Martin finds out from reading his emails and then blackmails Simon. This causes Simon to be in a tough position where he doesn’t want to come out as gay for the fear of causing drama in school, yet he still cultivates a romantic relationship with Blue.
What I enjoyed the most about the book was the verisimilitude of the characters and the setting. Unlike some young adult romance books where love happens at first sight and the relationship develops spontaneously, this book takes on a more realistic approach. The characters Simon and Blue first attempt to know each other well, ultimately leading to a relationship that blossoms. The real-life aspects of the book are not only present in the romance that Simon and Blue experience, but also the typical components of high school such as friend drama and annoying classmates. By doing so, this made the book somewhat relatable to me such as Simon’s thoughts about high school classes or his relationship with his parents.
More importantly, I loved the powerful message in the book about coming to terms with one’s sexuality and embracing sexuality as a key part of one’s identity. Seeing Simon’s development from a closeted teen to a boy that owns his identity reminded me of a Bildungsroman in which the protagonist has a better understanding of one’s self and others. I felt happy to see the significant change Simon underwent in the sense that Simon no longer cares too much about how others perceive him as gay.
Although the book’s tone can be colloquial and lighthearted at times, the book still addresses serious societal issues regarding homophobia and the struggles people in the LGBT community face. From hearing gay jokes to hiding his relationship with the real Blue in public, Simon’s perspective reveals that more progress is necessary to create a safe and inclusive environment for non-heterosexual people. One quote that resonated with me the most is when Simon asks, “Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you are straight, gay, bi, or whatever.” As someone that has friends in the LGBT community, I have heard them discuss the frustrations of their parents assuming they are straight.
All in all, I highly recommend Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda for all teens. While the main theme discusses sexuality and love, the book does highlight other important issues such as race and assumptions. The delightful ending in the novel made me feel happy and filled with bubbly emotions as if I stepped inside Simon’s mind. If you like coming-of-age novels that involve an element of romance, then this book will suit you.
Picture Credit – Brielle French- Unsplash