I’ll openly admit that I’m mad at myself for not reading this sooner, because man, was it good! I rushed through it faster than I could have imagined (all before lunchtime at work — I know, I’m shocked myself).
The story opens very quickly with a conflict – a fellow student, Martin, has found one of Simon’s secret emails with “Blue”. The problem? Simon’s gay, and so is Blue – but neither of them have told anyone. Martin decides to blackmail Simon into helping him get with his friend Abby – if he doesn’t help him, Martin will tell everyone Simon’s secret, and potentially Blue’s (pen name) as well. As Simon and his relationship with Blue blossom, everything else around the two becomes a little bit more complicated as friendships/relationships, identities, and more are threatened.
So why did I like this so much? Well, I can’t identify with the whole “coming out” ideal, but the whole “falling in love before you’ve even met” part was essentially my teenage life. Simon and Blue click so well that they are afraid to meet because it could ruin what they have created. They’ve both become so comfortable with each other and are so able to be “themselves” that the thought of that going away is just terrifying. And Simon’s also so enraptured in this online person that he’s ignoring those around him who are interested: “I’ll probably never have a boyfriend. I’m too busy trying not to be in love with someone who isn’t real.” This hit me so closely because I too was terrified of every online relationship I ever had — when they finally met me, would they like me as much as they do now? Albertalli really does a great job at making the conversations and feelings so REAL. I think that’s part of the reason I went through this so quickly — I wanted that happy ending for those of us who were just as afraid as Simon and Blue.
The formatting of alternating between the email exchanges and actual life are also very entertaining – you get to be a part of their conversations and then see the aftermath.
And the relationships with friends and family when it comes to “coming out” are very well done – we have a situation where it was done according to plan, and another where it was not. The author does a good job at addressing the love and the anger and the hate that can come out as well.
I highly recommend this book to fans of YA, coming-of-age, and LGBTQ fiction.