A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (which was made into the movie Love, Simon) is about a teen boy who comes out of the closet and falls into his first relationship. Simon faces a few incidents of bullying after he comes out as gay. There's no physical violence, but girls in Simon's theater program chase some boys who show up at practice to harass Simon, holding derogatory signs. Another boy blackmails Simon when he finds out Simon is gay. Boys discuss masturbation over email. Boys kiss, hold hands, and spend some time in a room together alone. A mother advises her child to use protection and talks about oral sex. There are other gay characters and bisexual characters, including teens who come out to each other and their families. Simon goes to a party where there's drinking and has a beer. In another scene, he comes home drunk after a night with his friends and is caught by his parents. There’s liberal use of "f--k," plus some derogatory words for gay people and a few words such as "hell" and "crap."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Simon is a gay teen who's being blackmailed: He forgot to sign out of his email, and a classmate discovered the secret messages he was sending anonymously to a teen boy he only knows as Blue, who's also in the closet. Now, if Simon wants his sexuality to stay a secret, he must help that classmate try to hook up with a girl he likes. When Simon's secret inevitably comes out, he faces both positive and negative reactions from his friends, parents, and classmates, including some outright bullying at school. He also must figure out what to do about Blue, for whom he now has deep feelings -- and who now knows who he really is.
Is it any good?
Despite the rather devastating premise, SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA is a fast-moving, fun book about a boy learning to be honest about who he is -- and to be brave enough to take a chance on love. Simon's coming-out story might not break new ground, but it's sweet and romantic.
Also, Simon gains some surprising insights about himself and life, and readers will enjoy his ideas. For one, he thinks that all young people should have to come out about their sexuality, not just gay people. He also realizes the logic in what Blue tells him -- "people really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows" -- meaning he's not the only one with a secret identity and that even the people he's closest to are getting over private pain or discovering new parts of their personalities. That's a lesson that all teens can relate to.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about coming-out stories. What do you think of Simon's idea that all people should have to come out, no matter what their sexuality?
What do you think about the blackmail subplot? Parents might want to use this book -- and what happened to Simon -- to discuss cyberbullying with their kids.
What would happen in your school if someone came out as gay? Would anyone act as badly as some of the kids do in Simon's school?
- Author: Becky Albertalli
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: April 7, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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