Becky Albertalli: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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I placed this book in the Helmet Reading Challenge to number 1: a book’s name is beautiful. Well, maybe the name is not overtly beautiful, but the story certainly is. 16-year-old Simon loves drama, but preferably on stage. As drama lands in his everyday life, it’s a different game altogether. A schoolmate blackmails Simon and threatens to reveal his love object – a boy, who doesn’t seem to be ready to step out of the closet yet. And Simon has no hurry to get out either. But as things progress, there are plenty of surprises in store for Simon as well as his friends and fiends.

Simon by Becky Albertalli

Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Otava 2017
Category: YA Fiction
Original language: English
Rating: 4/5

Helmet Reading Challenge 2017, number 1: A book’s name is beautiful.

I loved this love story perhaps almost as much as the one of Simon (chic!) Snow and Baz of Carry On. Albertalli creates a dreamlike, beautiful atmosphere, which holds you in its grip throughout the book just like Carry On.

Becky Albertalli has a background as a youth psychologist and teacher and it is easy to notice. Her description of the school life feels authentic. She has created a plot, which offers new twists and turns and caters the reader with gradually deepening understanding of the characters. They all have their ups and downs, pros and cons. This book is one that is extremely hard to put down!

Simon’s ordeal begins just after he’s finally found the love of his life. As his thoughts circle around his own love life, he pretty much forgets that his friends might have something similar in mind too. There are naturally some hang ups with parents, as Simon pops in a downtown gay bar and has a few drinks. When his old friend Nick comes to overnight after Simon has come out to his parents, it’s suddenly a problem for them to sleep in the same room…

This is actually the point, which cut my rating down from 5 to 4. As much as I loved the novel, it had the kind of fairytale feeling with all the parenting and going-by-the-book attitude regarding these teenage moments of a bit hazy judgement, which cooled down my warm feelings towards the story.

It is possible to make beautiful YA love stories, which feel extremely authentic and rough. A brilliant example is Skam, a Norwegian YA television series. With amateur actors and a whole new concept to production, it has broken out of the genre and gained huge popularity, mostly by word-of-mouth.

Susan

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