Cute and a little bit dorky, Simon is the rare kind of protagonist that almost any reader can relate to. When he finds himself being blackmailed, he has to choose: risk coming out of the closet and dragging another with him, or go along with his blackmailer’s plan to land the girl? Not to mention the play is coming up, he’s in love with someone he doesn’t even know, and his friends all have their own problems, too. Your students will fall in love with Simon in Becky Albertalli’s young adult LGBTQ novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
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What Drew Me To Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda?
I was reluctant to pick up Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Everyone hyped up this novel and the movie had already come out by the time I got my hands on it. I felt like I was so late to the party that it wasn’t even worth showing up.
But I’m always looking to diversify my classroom library bookcase and my young adult LGBTQ selection is slim. So when First Book had this one on the cheap, I knew I would be letting my future students down if I didn’t give this novel a shot.
What Makes Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda “lit”?
Easily the best part of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is the protagonist Simon. He is deep in the midst of teenage awkwardness in a way that is relatable and adorable.
His thinking and thought processes definitely reminded me of what it was like to be a teenager, constantly second-guessing everything and always worried about others’ perceptions.
Simon’s friends also feel familiar. Maybe it’s because I, too, was a theater nerd, but everyone in this book reminded me of an old friend and old habits. Right down to their frequent trips to Waffle House–though my drama group and I had IHOP.
Relatable characters and situations are definitely a strength of this novel. So is the storytelling. While much of the story is told from Simon’s point-of-view, part of the story is also told through a series of e-mails.
This does a great job of breaking up the narrative in a way that adds tension and makes us, the readers, feel like we, too, are carrying around a big secret.
Who’s the Ideal Reader for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda?
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda will be a great novel for any students you know who are LGBTQ. It deals a lot with the uncomfortableness of coming out and learning to re-identify yourself.
When I was in high school, I had a lot of LGBT friends who, after coming out, devoured every book they could with characters who liked them. I wish I could go back in time and hand them this novel.
But Simon’s voice and his struggles are universal, too. Your artsy students will love seeing into the drama of his theater friends. Your quiet students will identify with that feeling of being “unknown” to those around them.
And, with the relatively low Lexile score, this book will be quite accessible to most of your high school students. I think for everyone going through puberty, there’s something in this novel for them.
You may have some pushback from your more conservative students and their families may object to a book like this even being on your shelf. But really, we know that they need it most of all.
If, for nothing else, put this one on your shelf to let your LGBTQ students know that you see them.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda: The Facts
Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ
Setting: Present-day Georgia, outside of Atlanta; most of the story takes place in a high school or at Simon’s home
Main Character: Simon, a closeted teenage boy
Page Numbers: 336
If you want more LGBTQ novels for your high school classroom library, I Am J is a great novel for your trans students. Looking for other novels for your students?
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