In this 2016 YALSA Morris Award winner, theater kid Simon has an online pen pal, known only as Blue, who attends the same school and is also secretly gay. When Simon forgets to logout of a library computer, the boy using it after him, Martin, blackmails Simon into helping him pursue a relationship with Abby, one of Simon’s best friends. As Simon panics about everyone finding out his secret, he also is beyond terrified of the ramifications for the mysterious Blue whom he has grown to love. It’s a beautiful story of fragile identities and strong relationships that will speak to the inner souls of similar teens.
This book has been among my must-read-soon books ever since it won awards the year I was helping in YALSA, but usually, it’s heavily checked out, so it’s been some time to be able to get my hands on it! It was everything I’ve expected, especially hearing how much a few librarian friends truly loved this story. While finally LGBTQ teens have a main character who has similar struggles and feelings as themselves and thus will love this brave book, other teens will also find this speaks to them through the similarities of keeping secrets (and secret online relationships), being afraid of rejection from friends for their true selves, and those tender feelings of first love that can make or break you. I enjoyed Simon and Blue’s correspondence and descriptions of daily life, which rang very true to any teen keeping a journal (me! 🙋🏻) though Simon’s frequent apologizing drove me bonkers. (This is a personal hypocrisy as I thoroughly admit I probably would have done the same.) Much of the references to technology are modernly accurate but without being too closely defined, which hopefully will lead to a more timeless quality of a classic YA book of its age. I also quite relished how Simon is so caught up in his own whirlwind that he fails to connect some obvious differences in his friends and the final ending was satisfying for these many revelations. I was horrified by Creek Secrets, Martin’s blackmail, and poor Simon’s spot backed into a corner. There are bullying incidences but a courageous teacher and sympathetic friends make you believe in the power of good.
I had two favorite moments in this book that I can recall:
*context: Halloween and Simon’s talking to his younger sister, Nora*
Nora looks up from her book. “Simon. Eww.”
“It’s a dementor robe over my clothes. I think you’ll survive.”
“What’s a dementor?”
I mean, I can’t even. “Nora, you are no longer my sister.”
“So it’s some Harry Potter thing,” she says.
Ms. Albright, Simon’s teacher, in response to a bullying incident:
“Okay, well,” she says quietly. “Just know that those assholes are getting suspended. I’m not even kidding. I will make it my hill to die on.”
Look out, because we’re sure to see a trailer for this movie soon, possibly by this Christmas, since it’s set to release in March 2018!