Thursday, July 23, 2015

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli

Staff review by Chris Saliba

A heart-warming yet emotionally complex coming out story.

Becky Albertalli is an American clinical psychologist who works with teenagers. Married with two children, her debut novel is about a young gay teen’s troubled coming out.

Sixteen-year-old Simon Spier is conducting an online friendship with a mysterious young man named “Blue”. It’s all anonymous, with Simon going by the name Jacques. The two discuss via email their problems and anxieties in being closeted teens.

Suddenly, a crisis hits. When Simon doesn’t log out properly from his gmail account at the school library, a fellow student stumbles across his emails. The secret correspondence is now in the wrong hands, that of Martin Addison. He knows Simon is gay and starts to blackmail him. What follows is Simon’s tortuous path to coming out to his family and friends.

A lot of fraught and messy emotional territory is covered in Becky Albertalli’s sweet and endearing young adult novel. She skilfully shows Simon go through a major event in his life and come out a stronger person for it. This is a heart-warming story with a light at the end of the tunnel. Being gay may expose you to bullies and blackmailers, but there are also an army of supporters ready to back you up. A delight.

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli. Published by Penguin. ISBN: 9780141356099. RRP: $17.99

To sign up for our monthly newsletter, featuring new releases, book reviews and favourite articles from around the web, click here.