Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
320 pages; Balzer + Bray
The eponymous narrator of Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda forgets to log out of his secret email account, which is how he winds up getting blackmailed: He has to help Martin Addison date the popular new girl or be outed as gay to the whole school. So what's Simon to do but become, as he eloquently puts it, "wingman matchmaker bitch"?

The setup evokes teen farces like 10 Things I Hate About You, but Albertalli, a psychologist and former co-leader of a support group for gender-nonconforming children, cares less about rom-com hijinks than the quiet terror of change, how in order to reach for your true identity, you have to leave your old self behind. As Simon moans: "I'm tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing.... And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again." And that's Simon's wise, melancholy lesson: We are all in a constant state of reintroduction to the universe, to our fellow Homo sapiens, and ultimately to ourselves. And over the course of this radically tender debut, we're reminded that while high school mercifully ends, the stumble toward growth continues, one freaking awkward step at a time.
— Natalie Beach