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Saturday, August 19, 2017

My Mini Thoughts: Simon & The Upside by Becky Albertalli

Hi Friends,

If you were here for my June/July wrap up than you know that I listened to both of Becky Albertalli's novels on audiobook at the end of July. I had planned on reading just the Upside of Unrequited (I even checked it out of the library). In the end, I decided I wanted to read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda first. As soon as I finished it, immediately went onto The Upside of Unrequited.

Today, I bring you my mini thoughts on both of them. Cause they were both pretty amazing.

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.

I don't know why I didn't read this book before now... I really don't. Maybe I was leery of all the hype. Maybe I thought I wasn't going to like it. I don't know. In the end I loved this book- plane and simple.

Simon was a lovely little character and I really enjoyed his voice. He was sweet and genuine and an all round nice guy. I really wanted him to be my friend. I loved his inner conflict when it came to him being blackmailed, his desire to protect both his friends. I loved how he owned it (for the most part) when he screwed up or maybe made some bad decisions. I loved how he dealt with his whole coming out. He didn't shy away from it, I really appreciated it.

What also really made Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda so great was the supporting cast. Simon's friends were amazing, and supportive and encouraging. Simon's parents- LOVED them!! His parents are very present in this book. Which is not always in the case in YA- this a HUGE pet peeve of mine, the lack of parents, like seriously. That is not the case in this book, the grownups are there and they have a say. Simon's parents were lovely.

Albertalli addressed a satchel full of real "issues" like blackmail and bullying and sexuality, and she makes them accessible to readers. These were realistic situations that I am sure most kids could find themselves in. I loved that while this book was dealing with some pretty serious themes, it was still fun and witty and such a joy to read. It wasn't a heavy read by any means.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Immediately after I read Simon I jumped into The Upside of Unrequited, and I am SO glad I did. I wasn't ready to let go of all things Albertalli. I was pretty certain I was going to love this book, and super eager to get it started.

I'll say right off the bat that I didn't love this one AS much as I loved Simon, but, I still found it pretty spectacular. I think a lot of what makes this story so incredible is how easy it is to relate to Molly. I was Molly when I was 17. I was a chubby, self-conscious teen. I was the queen of un-reciprocated crushes, and I never felt confident enough to put myself out there. Molly's story and her journey felt very familiar to me. This is SUCH and important feature of this book. It's very much a "you are not alone" kind of story, particularly since Albertalli is speaking from her own experience.

Again, I really loved the adult presence of this story. They were there and they were real and they had a voice. I adored Molly and Cassie's Mums, I loved how both of them had a very real parental role in the lives of their children (I have read some books where the non biological parent isn't really treated as a parent- this is not okay).  I think this is one thing I really find amazing with Albertalli, she recognizes the importance of parents/adults in her story. She knows what their role is and she uses it.

Overall, both of these books, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited, do an amazing job at engaging in an important conversation about extremely relevant situations. But she still presented them in a fun and interesting way. I loved it, and I hope you all will to.  I certainly have every intention of rereading both of these books often.

~Happy Reading Every One


  1. Hope to read both books very soon! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I'm curious if I think about it the same way.

  2. You're totally right about how often YA books don't feature parents! I thought the characters in Simon felt really realistic and it sounds like that's the case again in Albertalli's second book.

  3. I hate when adults are absent- this is supposed to be realistic fiction- make it realistic!

  4. I have read Simon and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was super sweet! Haven't read her other novel yet, though maybe I should! It looks cute too :)

    1. I'm pretty convinced that if you like Simon, you're going to like the Upside. It's such a lovely read.


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