Becky Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, tells the story of Simon Spier, a sixteen-year-old gay teenager who has yet to come out to his family and friends. It’s not that Simon is necessarily afraid to come out, he’s simply not ready to do so. Yet, the one person who does know about Simon’s sexual identity is his anonymous gay pen-pal, Blue, who attends Simon’s school and with whom he develops a close relationship with despite not knowing who he is. However, when one of their private emails falls into the wrong hands, it is used to blackmail Simon into doing their bearer’s will. Should he not do what is asked of him, Simon’s sexuality will be revealed to the world – and Blue’s privacy put on the line.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda became a staple read in the bookshelves of contemporary book lovers everywhere in 2015. When the film adaptation, renamed as Love, Simon, was announced the YA contemporary world went absolutely wild. I’ve owned the novel for a couple of years now and hadn’t gotten to it just yet but the excitement around the film’s release made me want to read it immediately! I wish I read this book sooner because it is such a heart-warming and funny read despite the serious topics it deals with. There are trigger warnings for bullying, outing, and harassment in this story yet these, as well as the complex themes, are dealt with gently in the novel and the film. Being a straight woman, I cannot speak for the queer representation but what I do know is that this is a light-hearted and positive take on the coming out narrative. But this is not the main focus of the novel. Rather, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda focuses on the convention of coming out and subverts this by emphasising the importance of being who you are unapologetically.