I just finished this book yesterday and want to review it while it’s still fresh and I’m still basking in the warm feel-good glow, even though that means it’s skipping the queue.
I was a little sceptical at first, as the language is very – well – teenager. For the first few chapters I kept thinking that if I see the words “I guess” one more time where no actual guessing is involved, I’m going to combust. It’s also full of “freaking” and “awesome”, “like” and things that are weirdly hilarious or weirdly cute etc. I can’t even. 😉 And he (the title character) has a thing about sentence fragments. But then again, so do I. I actually consider it more of a writing style than an error and always click Ignore when Word tells me “Fragment (consider revising)”.
So yeah, the book has a very distinctive lingo and style, which at first I had some trouble with, but once I got past that – oh my.
The story revolves around a secretly gay high schooler in the southern US (Georgia, to be precise), his group of friends, his family and his email relationship with the anonymous (and also gay) Blue. It alternates between chapters told from Simon’s perspective and chapters showing the email exchange between him and Blue. And it’s just. So. Cute. And funny, and a little sad, and heart-warming. I seriously can’t even.
Simon is adorable and funny, his friends and family are likeable and colourful, and the story kept me completely hooked without resorting to drama for the sake of it. I mean, there’s drama, but nothing you wouldn’t expect to happen in a group of hormonal teenagers where some people have big secrets, some people have unrequited crushes and some are just really insecure.
But even though it’s cutesy, it feels genuine and the characters feel real and vivid.
Even without being secretly gay and having that extra level of drama to your first romance, the feelings and thoughts that Simon and Blue exchange are recognisable. And obsessing over emails and the sender of emails even though it’s someone you’ve never met, is definitely relatable – that’s how my now 11+ year relationship started. Even though, unlike Simon and Blue, we exchanged names and personal details within a week or so, we didn’t actually meet for another year. And I was just so sure that when I finally met him we’d be a match, that there was no way I wouldn’t fall in love with him – just like Simon feels about Blue.
I was right, and as for Simon..Well, read the book!
I got so absorbed in their relationship and in Simon’s quest to find out who Blue was and meet him in person that I almost didn’t get off the train in the morning and Googled US presidents during my lunch break at work (it will make sense when you read the book). And their flirting just made me all warm and giggly, like back in the day when J would send me an email with something slightly suggestive in it. It hit just the right note.
The book touches on themes important to teenagers, such as identity, problems with coming out, and romantic relationships in general without going to a dark place. It’s full of humour, warmth and wit. A refreshing read. I love YA when it’s done well, and this is definitely it.