Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Rating: Five Simons 😛

Why shouldn’t everyone have to come out and tell the world their sexual orientation? Why is it only a big deal if someone “comes out” as gay? Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, is fan-freaking-tastic!!! She explores what it’s like to be a kid falling in love for the first time in a day and age, where social media can make or break you. What I loved most about this novel, is that Simon coming out as gay fuels the plot line but it isn’t the only motivating force. Albertalli, tells a vivid story that explores all types of love from familial, friendship based, and romantic perspectives. She portrays Simon and Blue’s emotions as valid, real, and not “abnormal”.

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself here. The main character of the novel is Simon Spier, a sixteen-year-old who’s got the “perfect” life, except for one secret: he’s gay. He’s got an amazing family, cool dog named Bieber, and friends who love him. Yet, he can’t seem to tell them he’s gay. When someone else anonymously comes out on the high school Tumblr page, Simon reaches out. A budding romance develops between them under the pseudonym of “Jacques” and the mysterious “Blue”. Throw in some blackmail with other teen drama and you’ve got a winner. When I say this novel is fan-freaking-tastic, I mean it’s FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC! I read the book within a few hours; I could not put it down. The novel is quirky, nerd-loving (heck yah Harry Potter for life), and genuine. Albertalli, makes some incredibly insightful and moving points that can move the reader to question our societies’ norms, I know I did. My recommendation? READ. THIS. NOVEL.

P.S. Read it before going to see the movie. Trust me. They are two different beasts and you’ll do yourself a disservice if you see the movie first. Don’t get me wrong the movie is great. I enjoyed it, just keep the movie and book separate in your mind. Again, I repeat, READ THE NOVEL 🙂

 

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Have you ever read a book that has you smiling ear to ear like a giddy preteen about to get their hands on the final Twilight book? When Dimple Met Rishi was that book for me. Once I got started, I couldn’t put it down. I read in the car. I read while walking across campus for class. I read on the sardine packed Aggie bus and proceeded to fall over because I was paying more attention to Sandhya’s magical book instead of holding on for dear life as the driver hit the brakes. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this book is magic.

It.

Is.

Literal.

 

If you’re reading this and shaking your head because YA romance just doesn’t float your boat, I implore you to hear me out. This book is more than boy meets girl, tragedy strikes and tears them a part, and somehow they end up with their happily ever after. Sandhya’s book is a coming of age story with a complicated, driven, and strong female lead. Dimple Shah refuses to be the perfect Indian daughter her mother wants. She doesn’t like wearing makeup, feels more comfortable in jeans and converse, and prefers her “specs” over contacts (Girl same, you will never see me without my glasses). Her mother’s biggest concern is making sure Dimple finds her I.I.H – Ideal Indian Husband and that’s the farthest thing on Dimple’s mind. She wants to be a badass computer coder and go to Stanford to make that dream a reality.

Insomnia Con is a budding coder’s heaven – the chance to code an app all summer long competing for the prize of a life time – having THE Jenny Lindt, powerhouse female coder, help you get your app market ready. Dimple doesn’t believe her frugal parents would ever pay for her to attend Insomnia Con yet how could the plot of the book develop without Dimple going??

According to the summary on the back of the book, “Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic”. He’s also the perfect Indian son. He wants to please his parents, in his wife choice as well as career choice. Rishi has no interest in Insomnia Con, but if it means a chance to meet his future wife – why not? Rishi, his parents, and Dimple’s parents are already writing up the marriage announcement but if I’ve done any justice in describing Dimple, do you think she’ll go along without a fight? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Sandhya’s writing style is quick and witty. She artfully pens what it is like to be an Indian-American teenager and the cultural pressures that entails. I know I butchered the Hindi word pronunciation and if I had one “issue” with the book it would be that there wasn’t a pronunciation guide at the back of the book. Instead I just bugged my friend who speaks Hindi endlessly until I was saying the words correctly – sorry not sorry Divya! I loved learning about Indian culture and it was eye opening to see even a small representation of the cultural conflict children of immigrants face. I cannot say it enough – I LOVED THIS BOOK!! It’s unique, quirky, with a realistic and empowered female lead, and REPRESENTATIVE! I learned so much, laughed, cried, and never wanted to leave the vivid world Sandhya crafted.

Everything, Everything By Nicola Yoon

LIFE IS COMPLICATEDTM

SPOILER REVIEWS BY SAVANNAH

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING BY NICOLA YOON

Spoiler alert: This isn’t John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars — no one unexpected dies.

            Second spoiler alert: This book is amazing, read it. Don’t just watch the movie.

            SCID – Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. If you were diagnosed with SCID tomorrow it would mean you’re basically “allergic to the world” in the words of Madeline Whittier. In other words, you don’t get to interact with said world. Nicola Yoon weaves a realistic, quirky, and heart wrenching story centered around Madeline Whitter, a young girl with SCID, in her novel Everything, Everything. You are exposed to Madeline’s: day to day routine, her medical test results, online shopping orders, spoiler book reviews, and so much more.

When I say you’re exposed to these things, I literally mean exposed because they’re printed on the page. There are endless graphics, designs, and artwork throughout the short novel. The interspersion of the graphics/artwork amongst the regular text of the novel allows the reader to fly through story at an alarming rate, or at least I did and I openly acknowledge that I am a slow reader. The art work doesn’t only break up the text and allow for diversity in form but it’s also extremely realistic of a 21st century high school girl. There are text exchanges, emails, and notebook entries; all exposing the raw and unfiltered thoughts of a teenage girl who has been quarantined in her own home for the majority of her life. Of course it’s not a real depiction of a teenage girl’s life unless a boy is involved and what could be better than the boy next door?

Olly and his family move into the house next to Madeline and what could be more exciting for someone that’s been confined to the same square footage for nearly 18 years? Olly is more of a surprise than Madeline could have ever expected. His favorite color is black and that’s what he wears every day from head to toe. He runs at walls, chills atop roof tops, and captures Madeline’s attention and heart almost instantly although she tries to deny it. If you’re not someone who enjoys “boy meets girl” stories then this novel might not be for you. What I can say is that it’s not your typical high school romance novel. There are massive plot twists, in depth relationships, and sadly too realistic family scenarios. Olly’s character development is just as intensive as Madeline’s and it’s a joy to read.

I was delighted and engaged throughout the entire read. That being said, I did have an issue with the ending. I won’t give away any spoilers but I will say that the ending comes extremely fast. A major plot point is revealed and less than fifty pages later the novel is finished. Personally I was happy with the ending, but not the way it was written. I needed more finality, more closure. The ending would be great if I knew it was intentionally left vague in order for there to be a sequel but this novel is a standalone. Please comment with what you thought of the ending because I would love to know your thoughts!  I really had the best time reading this novel and recommend it to all who appreciate realistic fiction, teenage love, and the journey of growing up and finding yourself.