September 6, 2018
Not So Simple Simon
For most of us, our high school experiences were influenced by our identity. A number of us were considered cheerleaders, jocks, nerds, goth kids, or drama geeks. Our labels were one of the primary ways in which our peers recognized us. Then what about our identities hidden under the surface? In Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapien’s Agenda she delves into the complicated social dynamics of high school and the significance of being true to yourself and not conforming to others views about you.
In Simon vs. The Homo Sapien’s Agenda, Simon, the main character is a sixteen-year-old closeted homosexual. Who goes to a public high school called Creekwood High School. His secret emails with another boy who goes by the name of Blue are discovered by a student named Martin. Martin decides to blackmail Simon, with the threat of outing him, to help him get into a relationship with one of Simon’s new female friends, Abby. Martin says while talking to Simon, “I mean, I guess I’m wondering if you want to help me talk to Abby” (4). This ushers in the official start of Simon being blackmailed and having to deal with the resulting consequences. Eventually, Simon steps out of the dark sinister closet that homosexuality can create, and is hardly treated bad or differently by his friends. Simon, although bullied by his peers at first, which is what he was trying to avoid, was accepted by his friends and family. This released a huge weigh of his shoulders, Simon no longer had to worry about what others thought of him and just lived life how he wanted.
Characters and their development are an important part in the progression of any storyline and Simon vs. The Homo Sapien’s Agenda is no exception. Simon has two sisters, an older one named Alice and a younger one named Nora. Alice being the oldest of three siblings has a much more mature and responsible look on life than her younger counterparts. She is a millennial who does not judge people for living a different way of life than herself. Because of this she is very accepting of Simon and his sexuality saying, “This is exciting. We can talk about guys” (165). Being understanding of people’s ways of life needs to be a more common occurrence. Nora, being the youngest, is a bit more reserved and introverted than her older siblings. Describing Nora, Simon’s younger sister, Albertalli writes, “Nora never really goes out” (41). Being younger she may not have the same connection or drive to hang out with friends as Simon or Alice does. Martin is yet another notable character in the book as he is the main antagonist. Martin, just like all of us, makes mistakes, one of his mistakes being the blackmail of Simon Spier. However, he may very well learn from his blunders, only time will tell.
The character’s development is not the only important aspect of a novel. Many other factors go towards helping to decide if a work is worthwhile. The most prominent factor in deciding if a novel is engaging is the strengths and weaknesses of the piece. One of Simon vs. The Homo Sapien’s Agenda’s great strengths is how it addresses teenagers and the way they treat others. Although some, like Martin, may seem like jerks when first introduced, there is always a possibility of them coming around and being nicer towards people. For example, Martin says in an apology email to Simon later in the book “I don’t even know where to begin with all of this, so I guess I’ll just start by saying I’m sorry” (287). This shows the many different sides of people. Just because people may be rude at the start of them being in your life doesn’t mean you should count them as a loss as far as personality wise. They might just surprise us.
A few reviewers, such as The Guardian, stated that Simon vs. The Homo Sapien’s Agenda felt “real”, and personally, I agree with them. I am slightly older than Simon and his friends are in the book, and I just graduated high school so I have a rough idea of what The Guardian is saying. Creekwood seems like most high schools with the amount of drama that goes on there. The kids at Creekwood remind me a little bit of my peers in school: strange, funny, and somehow a tad bit annoying to be around at times. There are others, like Martin, unfortunately, that are less fun to be around or even downright rude at times. Although people like that may ruin some of the experience for some people’s high school careers, those trials and tribulations should not define one’s experience or the rest of one’s life. In the end, I believe high schoolers and college freshmen should read Simon vs. The Homo Sapien’s Agenda, because for those in high school it discusses many issues they may face, and for those in college, it is a fairly easy-to-read book, so it makes for a good first year introduction to a possible composition course load.
Albertalli, Becky. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Balzer and Bray, 2015.
ShadowKissed, Hannah, and “Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – Review.” The Guardian, Guardian News and
Media, 1 Sept. 2015, www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-