Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

40212660153f6e426598_Simon_vs_the_Homo_Sapiens.jpg
40212660153f6e426598_Simon_vs_the_Homo_Sapiens.jpg

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Harper Collins, 2015)

Shauna Evans, a Special Education teacher at Schor Middle School in Piscataway, is guest writing Beth's Books this week. Evans, an avid reader, currently is working on her first novel in Young Adult fiction. A former columnist for the on-line magazine,“Examiner,” Evans covered the television show, American Idol, for several years.

 

Though I am an adult, and have been for some years now, the genre that I can't get away from reading is Young Adult fiction. Perhaps I'm just interested in the psyche of the modern teenager---I do work with them on a daily basis being a middle school teacher. I believe it probable that young adult fiction tends to have important themes that reach beyond the vast majority of contemporary adult fiction. Characters and plots can be well developed and still teach life lessons while being entertaining, concepts that seem to stay separate in much of adult fiction.

Sign Up for E-News

Through those themes, many times it is possible to find hope in a world that doesn't always offer much. The current pulse of our country beats out hatred and diviseness, and often times YA fiction can bridge the gap to take on challenges that adults don't always want to admit are plaguing the minds of today's youth. This is the exact feat mounted by first time author, Becky Albertalli, in her novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Simon Spier is just coming to terms with his sexuality as a gay male. Being sixteen and living in Georgia are two factors that don't make his new found feelings any easier. Simon has discovered a friend, a sympatico person, in an anonymous classmate whom Simon has found online, and the two boys have been exchanging flirtatious e-mails for several months. The books opens with a precarious new development---after spending an afternoon composing an e-mail to his friend of questionable romantic status, Simon doesn't log off a school computer properly, and the dubious e-mails are found by a classmate.

To complicate Simon's life even further, this classmate begins to blackmail him. If he doesn't help the blackmailer get a date with a mutual female friend, the blackmailer will share the e-mails with the entire school. Though Simon isn't sure how upset he would be if his own sexuality were exposed, he does not by any means want to betray his anonymous friend, Blue, the only person with whom Simon feels that he can be himself.

Albertalli's fresh voice is the true showpiece of this novel. The new author is a clinical psychologist, who worked for seven years in Washington, D.C. with a group of non-conforming children who were dealing with gender issues. Albertalli's interest in her work with the teenage brain is evident in her deep analysis of Simon's feelings for himself, Blue, and his other close friends. Simon wonders about the identity of Blue (which keeps the reader guessing for the majority of the book), and when his mind settles on what may seem like true possibilities, Simon delves into how Blue being this or that person would affect him. Would it thrill him for Blue to be the cute boy who is the stage manager of the high school theater production, or would it make him infinitely nervous to have a real chance at romance with someone so adorable who has a better handle on his sexual identity?

If, on the other hand, Blue has been a ruse created by his blackmailer, how heart-breaking would that be? What new lows about humanity in general would it expose to know that someone could be so cruel, particularly someone who, once Simon spends some quality time with, doesn't even seem that bad? The acknowledgment of these probing questions makes what at first seem like run of the mill developments more interesting in true teen drama fashion, Simon struggles with his friendships as, ultimately, his relationship with himself begins to change. He becomes close with new friends, and while not wanting to push out old pals, he can't help but offend someone.

When this happens, though, Simon doesn't brush off his old buddies in an “I'm changing, so inevitably my friends will” sort of way. He fights to keep his friends. Even more impressive is when Simon spends time pondering what it is that makes all friendships tick comes to the realization that he might be lacking some of these important life skills. In looking inward, Simon becomes not only a better person throughout the novel, but a character with whom we can relate, someone who has gone through deep personal introspection.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda does a great job of depicting the realistic struggle of a teenage boy coming to grips with his sexuality in a world that doesn't always accept others in their “other-ness.” Along the way, he encounters challenges from others, both friends and foes, self doubt, surprising acceptance, and the hilarious relief that comes with true friendship. With its lighthearted tone of acceptance, the novel brings hope through the normalization of what some generations may think of as different, and what many of this current teen generation see has part of the greater whole.

Be on the look out for Becky Albertalli's second novel, The Upside of Unrequited, which was just released on April 11.

 

Beth Moroney, former English teacher and administrator in the Edison Public School District, specialized in teaching Creative Writing and Journalism. Recently Moroney published Significant Anniversaries of Holocaust/Genocide Education and Human/Civil Rights, available through the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust. A passionate reader, Moroney is known for recommending literature to students, teachers, parents, and the general public for over forty years. Moroney can be contacted at trackdak19@hotmail.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

Obituaries

South Plainfield – John T. Felz, Jr., 71, passed away at his home on Thursday, June 14, ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Mayor Anesh Congratulations the Graduates

June 24, 2018

Dear Editor, 

A big congratulations to the South Plainfield High School 2018 graduating class. The next step in life will be a big one. Some will enter the United States military, others college and a number will immediately start their working careers. 

Remember all of the lessons learned at home, from your family at the dinner table, and those learned at school. These early life ...

Community Happenings

Mayor, Council Proclaim 'Amateur Radio Week’ in the Borough of South Plainfield

June 22, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ- At a June 18 meeting, South Plainfield Mayor Matt Anesh and the Borough Council proclaimed June 17 through June 23 as ‘Amateur Radio Week’ and asked all residents to extend their appreciation and respect to the community’s  amateur radio operators.

South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club (SPARC) will be participating in the American Radio Relay ...

Aria Rathor Recognized for Winning Tiger Logo Design

June 24, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Grant student Aria Rathor was recently honored for being named the winner in the South Plainfield School District’s recently Tiger Logo Contest. 

During the June 21 meeting, district administrators and the board of education congratulated Aria for her winning design and presented her with an $800 gift card. Her parents and brother Arav, who was named ...

Holy Savior Academy’s Championship Cheerleaders Seek Funds for New Equipment

June 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The Holy Savior Academy Cheerleading Squad has kicked off a fundraiser to generate $5,500 for the purchase of much-needed equipment, such as new tumble mats, sound equipment, and more for the award-winning squad.

“The group of twelve girls range from 1st through 4th grades,” said parent Marybeth Parache, who is heading up efforts to raise funds.  ...

Wrestling Ring Presentation

June 20, 2018

The South Plainfield High School Wrestling Team,  who have earned the title of “Three Peat Champs”,  received their State rings on Sunday, June 10, 2018.  Presentation of the rings an plaques were given by SPHS Wrestling Coach Pavlack an assistant coaches.   Funding  for the rings were donated by the South Plainfield Wrestling Club,  who has been one of ...

Inclusive Playground Ribbon Cutting Tonight - June 20

Nixle Alert - Official ribbon cutting at 6:30 om tonight to open inclusive playground at Willow Park.  All are invited to attend, A special storytime will follow.

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_ba23f8d0d41677854e89_spb-4937_newsletter_june_26

Tue, June 26, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. New Britain Bees Baseball ...

Carousel_image_5b249c4a7e6808d9d7bb_spb-4937_newsletter_june_27

Wed, June 27, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. New Britain Bees Baseball ...

Carousel_image_295f5001319d0d50ecf4_spb-4937_newsletter_june_28

Thu, June 28, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. New Britain Bees Baseball ...

Carousel_image_294da35e9b80010760c4_spb-4962_newsletter_july_6

Fri, July 6, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Road Warriors vs. Somerset Patriots

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Sports

Carousel_image_94f31e454b4c4bdcf615_spb-4962_newsletter_july_7

Sat, July 7, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Road Warriors vs. Somerset Patriots

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Sports

Carousel_image_21e1d6d7e4165f2fdd21_spb-4962_newsletter_july_8

Sun, July 8, 5:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Road Warriors vs. Somerset Patriots

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Sports

Columns

Weinberg, Diegnan Bill to Establish University-Based Consortium on Media Innovation Advances

TRENTON –A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Patrick Diegnan that would establish a state university-based consortium to advance research in the field of media and technology was passed from the Senate Higher Education Committee today.

“The state’s traditional newspaper market has been upended by changes in ...

South Plainfield and SP BOE Working Together to Strengthen School Security

South Plainfield, NJ - On Monday evening the Borough Council hired two new police officers. These hiring’s will allow two additional police officers to be stationed at South Plainfield Public Schools and will supplement the already strong security measures enacted by the Board of Education and the South Plainfield Police.

The hired officers are part of an interlocal agreement ...

Bookmarks

The South Plainfield Public Library will be open this Sunday, June 24 from 1:30 PM – 5 PM.  This is the last Sunday the library will be open until September.  During July and August, the library will be closed on Sundays, but the rest of the hours during the week will remain the same.

Come join us Monday, June 25 at 6:30 PM for Monday Night Movies.  The selection this week ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Ends Its Year with a Big Banquet

Our country has a long and rich history of service clubs contributing to the growth of their communities but there have been signs in the past two decades that interest in these groups is waning.  Not so at Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield.  Thanks to the efforts of Membership Chair Grace Bertucci, this past year seven new members joined this relatively small group of ...

Press Releases

SPARC RECEIVES PROCLAMATION & GETS READY FOR ARRL ANNUAL FIELD DAY

June 22, 2018

SPARC RECEIVES PROCLAMATION & GETS READY FOR ARRL ANNUAL FIELD DAY

The Borough of South Plainfield has issued the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club(SPARC) a Proclamation at Borough Hall, on June 18,2018 at 7 PM.

The Proclamation is honoring the annual ARRL Amateur Radio Week, June 18th through June 24th and the amateur radio operators nationwide for their public service to the ...

Summertime Air Quality Issues

Summer weather can be harmful to your health due to air pollutants like ozone, mold, and moisture that are more prevalent both inside and outside than they are during cooler months. 

Sunny days, warm temperatures, and light winds don’t allow pollutants to be cleared from outside air. Instead, they encourage the formation of ozone, a leading air pollutant.  Ozone is ...