Some of my favourite people have told me great things about this book, and it’s another one I feel like I’m late to the party on – but I read it in a couple of sittings a few weeks ago, and let me tell you that it’s entirely worth the wait. A sweet, heartfelt and adorable story of love and acceptance.
Simon Spier is sixteen years old, and lives a double life – hiding his sexuality from his friends and family and everyone at school. Simon’s only outlet is with Blue, another closeted boy at his high-school, who he emails with on a daily basis. The two of them have no idea who the other is, communicating using pseudonyms to discuss their secrets. Unfortunately for Simon, though, his emails fall into the hands of Martin, class clown with a mean streak and eyes for a girl in Simon’s friendship circle. Martin begins to blackmail Simon, threatening to out him to the world, and by doing so, ruining his growing, budding relationship with Blue. Simon’s secrets begin to create rifts within his small, close group of friends, and his feelings towards his anonymous pen-pal begin to grow, as this high school drama starts to unfold with emotion and heartfelt angst and hope.
Simon Vs is such a sweet book, filled with vibrant, wonderful characters who bounce off each other perfectly. Simon as our narrator is sweet, conflicted and always so well meaning – he spends most of the novel struggling to have what he truly wants, when he’s so busy trying to put everyone else’s feelings first, and hide his secrets from them. His secretive nature and the way it infects his friendships is subtle and lifelike, and his mistakes and darker, selfish thoughts are honest and easily relatable. The story has a brilliant set of secondary characters, all glowing with conflicting emotions and supporting Simon in beautiful, varied ways. Martin’s actions and behaviour are borne of desperation, but he’s still a terrible human being who I loved hating.
I love the themes tackled in Simon Vs, particularly the idea of “straight” being considered the default in our society. The idea of everyone having to come out, whether straight or gay or bisexual, is wonderful and is really a great way to hammer home the need for diversity in literature. The book also has great, witty dialogue with a voice that reflects teenagers perfectly. The way the characters interact is often hilarious, snappy and fun, but the emotions underpinning them are deep and complex. It’s a beautiful little story that I defy anyone to not smile at – and a love story with a better understanding of the spectrum of humanity than most YA out there.
Thanks for Reading, as always,