Simon is a junior in high school and early on we learn that he’s feeling isolated and lonely because he’s gay, hasn’t come out to anyone, and is looking to find a community where he can feel like he fits in with who he is. Right around this point in the novel, a post comes up on the school’s unofficial Tumblr page from a use by the name of Blue who’s expressing the same idea of being gay, not out, and feeling alone and isolated. Simon creates a username, Jacques, and so begins a correspondence between Blue and Jacques. Neither one knows who the other is, although Simon tries to guess who it is. Intermixed with this coming-out, love story, is a major plot of homophobia, black mail, and cyber-bullying.
I’ll admit I saw the movie first, which was so good I decided to read the book. I won’t do a movie review here, but suffice it to say, the movie was better. There are several elements of the book that I felt were important for the book’s audience. The primary element that stood out was that Simon breaks a lot of stereotypes. In breaking stereotypes I feel like the book is furthering the representation of LGBT+ community and in YA I feel that breaking stereotypes helps young adults feel like they have a place in the world. The second element I appreciated is that Simon never plays a victim even though some very terrible things happen to him. While he’s not stoic, he faces the challenges head on. At the same time we see that it’s not easy to fight back against bullies and homophobia.
Some issues I had with the book is that Simon can come across as callous at worst or just oblivious at best. Yes, he has a lot going on, but he lets all of this get in the way of his friends, two of whom he’s known for a long time. It’s not til the end of the book that he’s also confronted with the fact that he’s not a perfect, but when he goes to make amends, he dials it in so much it’s almost pointless. I don’t know if this is problem with the writing or whether he’s just written that way to show that some people are just this way.