Book #7 for 2017
Personal Challenge: An award-winning book
GenreLand Game: Romance
Better World Books Challenge Prompts:
– A young adult novel
– A book by a female writer
Book Riot’s Read Harder Prompts:
– A debut novel
– An LGBTQ+ romance novel
Possible Book Bingo Squares:
– A Book with an Award
– A Book with an LGBTQA Character
– An Author’s Debut
Legendary Book Club of Habitica’s Ultimate Reading Challenge: A book that you can finish in a day
PopSugar Challenge Prompts:
– A book with a red spine
– A book about a difficult topic
This is a sweet and wittily told romance story about a closeted gay teen who is being blackmailed about his secret budding email romance with another boy at the same school. What makes it even more interesting is that the sweethearts use code names and don’t even know who the other is. Albertalli makes effective use of red herrings to keep everybody guessing, though I did figure it out quite a bit before Simon did.
After the on-the-nose blandness of my previous read, Albertalli’s narrative voice was a refreshing change of pace. She used teen-boy-speak in clever ways to get her point across and was still able to make each character’s voice distinct. I did get a bit muddled about some of the side romances among Simon’s friends, but that may be in part due to my advanced age. Or perhaps I was always like that, even in high school.
This story made me think a lot about how different high school social life is now from when I was a kid. As much as I use social media now for planning my life, and despite being somewhat early (compared to my peers) to the online world in the ’80s, the idea of social media apps being such a ubiquitous teen communications hub is completely foreign to me. In retrospect, I had an insane level of personal privacy, and it’s kind of sad that today’s kids don’t even really know what it is to have a private life. As an introvert, I find the idea of having to be “on” like that at all times downright disturbing.
Albertalli also handles lots of side issues really well here. Like how various families set boundaries and consequences for pushing at or violating them. And how important it can be not only to communicate, but to be open to communication that might not be comfortable. And how people will surprise you by being complex.
This story ranged from silly to sobering, but it was a fun, quick read. The only reason I’m giving it only 4 stars is that I’m just too old to appreciate a lot of the teen angst. But I’d totally recommend this to any teenager.