For “Simon,” we’re once again hosting the book club discussion, and we hope that you’ll be prompted to put the book on your immediate TBR list; we promise you won’t regret it.
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
Reading Date: Me too, Sandie.
Reading Date: Yeah I could see that!
We Heart YA: I think it just goes to show that, at least for now, sexual identity is still so fraught that even in the most supportive environments, it can feel like A Thing. I suspect that’s probably very realistic. (Though admittedly I don’t know firsthand)
We Heart YA: Yeah there’s even a line in SIMON about how Catholic parents joining in parades after a kid comes out, and liberal parents getting upset. This I do know firsthand: Sometimes what a person believes, and what they are able to handle in their own families, are two separate things.
Teen Lit Rocks: YES! Same with interracial dating (not exactly the same, I know)
Reading Date: Good point. I do think everyone having to come out would relieve some of the pressure.
Gone Pecan: OMG to me that would make it worse!
We Heart YA: Like Simon, I used to think everyone should have to come out, but now I think no one should have to. I can’t wait till we get to a point in society where it doesn’t really matter
Reading Date: That’s true.
We Heart YA: Unfortunately I do think it matters now; things aren’t equal/accepted enough, and queer kids need role models and peer support.
Teen Lit Rocks: I actually think LGBTQIA is more prominent in YA than many other kinds of diversity.
Reading Date: And for a lot of kids that support is online- so SIMON definitely got that right.
Teen Lit Rocks: I think authors are more willing to write an LGB (maybe not T) character than another identity outside their personal experience.
We Heart YA: Yeah, I think that even though she’s writing outside her personal experience, it rings true (at least to me, which hasn’t always been the case with diverse stories that I’ve read). I mean, she’s writing from a male POV too.
Reading Date: The male voice was very impressive.
Gone Pecan: YES!
Reading Date: Kristan- that was actually what bothered my own teen.
We Heart YA: I dunno, it’s subtle, and I don’t necessarily need race to be a Big Deal, as you said.
Teen Lit Rocks: See I thought it was purposeful.
Reading Date: Did you feel like her calling out race was just to show that she had diverse characters?
We Heart YA: I don’t know if I can read that into it. I just know that, to me, the races felt told instead of shown. Which is not the biggest deal, I’m just saying.
We Heart YA: And I just want to stress: I don’t think it was done BADLY. I just think so much else about the book was done great, so it stood out to me as not quite on par with the rest.
Interested in the book? Make sure to read our Author Q&A with Becky Albertalli at Gone Pecan, The Reading Date’s feature “Simon Says: The Audiobook Agenda,” and We Heart YA’s feature “Why We Love SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA”. Stay tuned in June when we read and discuss Stacey Lee’s UNDER A PAINTED SKY. Read more about it | Buy it.
This post fulfills our monthly participation in Reading Wishes & Rather Be Reading’s Dive Into Diversity Challenge.