The Book Thief

I’m very pleased to end the year with The Book Thief. I read it mixing both my reading of the novel and then listening to parts of the audiobook on some of my trips during the holidays. The audiobook is fabulous. And the writing is fantastic quality.

I caught myself several times reading and thinking that every word felt like Zusak slaved over it. It seems that every word is in the perfect place. But while the writing is fantastic, I can’t say that the story is completely enthralling. I really think I’m more interested in the way the story is told rather than the actual story.

Don’t get me wrong, the story is moving, and it’s fascinating to be immersed in German culture during this period. What’s mostly fascinating is how normal it feels.

But let’s not get carried away! First striking fact of the novel is the narrator: Death — and what an incredible narrator he(?) is. We get a lot of insight into how death is and how death works. Like he mentions several times, this was a very active time in history. What becomes most obvious is Death’s fascination with humans — and it’s in the annuals of death that we find the beauty of life.

My favorite passage comes near the end, but really frames the story at work: “A human doesn’t have a heart like mine. *The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle,* and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing I evny. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die” (491).

Liesel’s story is both linear and circular. It is linear in that it is finite, i.e. it ends. But it is also circular because Death has the power to retell the story … to make Liesel live again. But the story is also circular because death starts telling the story at its ending, really takes us to the beginning, and brings us back to the end. That’s the true magic of Zusak’s novel.

One of the beautiful aspects of the novel is Liesel’s fixation with words and books. I love that her character development in turns comes from her development as a reader and subsequently as a writer. But her relationship to books is two-fold. First, she reads seemingly normal books. I suppose it makes sense that she wasn’t reading any of the known “classic” literature that most of us are familiar. There’s nothing standout — but these books still matter and make an impression on her. They are her victories.

Secondly, I like the significance that each book has to her life. That’s part of what /The Last Passage/ is for me — to help me remember the significance of the books I’ve read to my own life — where I was in my own journey while I have encountered other stories along the way. For instance, my heart swelled and ached as Liesel worked and struggled to get through The Gravedigger’s Handbook because it was tied to her mother and brother. It was the last link to her life before living with the Hubermanns.

But again, I return to my first point. I don’t know that the story (the linear part) mattered so much to me. I enjoyed Hans and Rosa’s parenting, the friendship of Rudy, and the company of Max. I think Liesel made an interesting choice for the main character. She was fragile enough, but also brave enough to steal books and to care for a Jew.

Overall, I think The Book Thief was a beautiful and moving story. I would encourage everyone to check out the audiobook too. Allan Corduner embodies the voice of Death so completely. I usually don’t think about the voice of the narrator when I’m reading silently, but I found myself reading in Corduner’s voice when switching back to the novel after listening to a stint of the audiobook.

Fantastic and well worth your time.

Favorite Passages in The Book Thief

Within minutes, mounds of concrete and earth were stacked and piled. The streets were ruptured veins. Blood streamed till it was dried on the road, and the bodies were stuck there, like driftwood after the flood. They were glued down, every last one of them. A packet of souls. Was it fate? Misfortune? Is taht what glued them down like that? Of course not. Let’s not be stupid. It probably had something to do with the hurled bombs, thrown down by humans hiding in the clouds. (12)

If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story. I’ll show you something. (16)

Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain. (80)

It’s much easier, she realized, to be on the verge of something than to actually be it. (87)

To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing, incessantly: “Get it done, get it done.” So you work harder. You get the job done. The boos, however, does not thank you. He asks for more. (309)

God. I always say that name when I think of it. God. Twice, I speak it. I say His name in a futile attempt to understand. “But it’s not your job to understand.” That’s me who answers. God never says anything. You think you’re the only one he never answers? (350)

It kills me sometimes, how people die. (464)

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. (528)

I can promise you that the world is a factory. The sun stirs it, the humans rule it. And I remain. I carry them away. (543)

A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR: I am haunted by humans. (550)

Allegiant

Lately, I have had a tough time finding any moment to read for my own pleasure. But I have had my sights on Allegiant since first reading Divergent. It didn’t disappoint. It was worth the late nights I spent reading. Insurgent finished on a rather important cliff-hanger, and Roth offered an excellent conclusion to the trilogy. As I discuss the novel, I will do my best to avoid major spoilers, though I plan to talk about the end. I will specifically mark when you should stop reading.

Allegiant diverges (har har) from the previous two novels in the way of narration. Tris and Tobias tag-team this story together, which was a nice touch. They have become so integral to one another that it makes sense to finally get perspective from each of them. Roth does a really good job at keeping the personalities and the psychologies distinct. Having Tobias’s perspective this time around also gave me a better appreciation of Tris as well. I finally got used to Tris as a narrator. (About time, right?) I always kind of found her narration somewhat aggravating in the previous novels … mostly because she’s so burdened and torn. This time around, I was really interested in her thoughts, more than Tobias’s … but I’ve also spent a little more time in her head.

In this novel, the core group of characters leaves the city to finally find out what’s beyond the fence — essentially chaos and the government. The journey is rather short, and the team soon meets the government only to find out their lives have been part of an elaborate experiment to find the best genes and solve the world’s problems. (Because up to this point “genetically damaged” people have caused the world to fall apart — according to the Bureau.) The novel plants its feet and doesn’t change scenery for a long while as the core group tries to come to grips with this new world that they haven’t known and come to grips with what’s being done inside the city. Ultimately, Tris and friends disagree with what the Bureau is planning to do to the city experiment and decide to stop the Bureau once and for all.

Essentially the experiment makes the argument that humans are genetically predisposed to be destructive and not good enough. There are a certain few, though, whose genes are perfect. But the rich part about this argument is that calling those who don’t have perfected genes, “damaged,” implies that those genes come from something that was once pure. If something is damaged, it obviously started in a better state than it ended in … and it ultimately means that it can be corrected, or mended. This causes a lot of strife, especially for those not divergent.

This argument about genetics also revolves around a perpetual lie. If people are continuously told that something is wrong with themselves, they will probably start to believe it. It takes a huge toll on Tobias; it’s revealed that he isn’t divergent after all. The news is hard to swallow and even alters his behavior.

At the heart of the novel are the serums encountered throughout the first two novels, except Allegiant focuses more on the Memory Serum and the Death Serum. The Memory Serum is fascinating because it offers a reset for the city — it offers control over people because they can be reset. It doesn’t erase knowledge in the sense that someone becomes stupid if his or her memory is erased; instead, it tackles event memories … basically I could wipe someone’s memory and then make him believe he’s living on Mars. And while this serum offers a great deal of control, it spawns so many ethical questions. Is it right to use it? But beyond that, it makes me wonder how much of ourselves are made from our memories. If you lose your memories, or if they’re altered, do you lose yourself? Tobias even comments on this: “There is something deeply wrong with taking a person’s memories …Take a person’s memories, and you change who they are” (100).

But is that true? Roth questions this even further. The Bureau decides to reset the Chicago experiment by using the Memory serum. Peter decides that he wants to be reset … he wants a second chance … to forget who he is, so maybe he can be better the next time around. Later on we find out that many aspects of his personality return. So there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer here, but it’s interesting to think about.

( *Note about spoilers:* For those of you who don’t like to read spoilers, I’ll do a brief wrap-up here. Do not read after this paragraph.) Roth has really delivered an excellent conclusion full of lots of big questions and emotional scenes. I highly recommend this, and for anyone on the fence about starting the trilogy, let this be you answer … you want to be able to read this novel.

***SPOILERS Ahead***
For those of us who have finished the novel, obviously the jaw-dropping moment in the novel is to read that Tris dies. Her death was a genuine surprise to me. It was a bold move on Roth’s part to kill her heroine, and she executed it successfully and correctly. I really welled up with emotion and for several pages, I was in disbelief until Tobias confirmed that it was indeed true. That takes talent for a novelist to be able to do that.

Tris’s death also plays to the spiritual aspects that have been present throughout the trilogy. I wrote about some in my Insurgent post. Forgiveness and second-chances have been at the forefront since Divergent began, and Allegiant continues those themes.

I think the most satisfying aspect before Tris dies is that she finds her strength. She finds her strength in what could be perceived as foolishness or weakness. She was always brave and always strong, but to face death serum and seemingly overcome it so boldly with the determination to live and help others live brings out the best in her. Finally, she truly /diverges/ from other people and in ultimate selflessness gives her life.

And I know that many will not appreciate her death. But the chapters that follow are so wonderful. The novel doesn’t end (thankfully) with Tris’s death … we get the aftermath. Tobias’s response is incredible and so real. It always amazes me how much we think we can’t live without someone and when he or she goes, our heart continues to beat. Our lungs still pull in air no matter how much we would prefer them to stop. And Roth gives us those moments with Tobias … and I think the entire novel is worth that.

Tobias reserves some memory serum for himself. His plan is to take it and forget everything. But Christina rescues him from such a cowardly fate. It’s that scene that is so wonderful, because even though it’s from Tobias’s perspective, you can feel the influence of Tris in the room with them. It takes true strength to move on with the memories that haunt us.

What I also appreciate is the power of friendship. Most of the characters are severed from their families, and it’s the friendships that make their new families. That’s been so important in my own life. Where my own family has failed me, my friend shave always been there to mend me.

Overall, I’m sad to see the story end. I made the comment recently to a friend that I didn’t think these characters were as memorable as other characters are — like Katniss and Peeta, or Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I was wrong. Since I finished, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them, where they started, and where we left them. They and their stories are memorable and worth rereading. Veronica Roth has woven a story that can appear simplistic, but she has hidden questions and themes that make this dystopia a rich place.

Favorite Passages in Allegiant

I understand why she did all those things, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still broken. (Tobias, 8)

From one tyrant to another. That is the world we know, now. (Tris, 13)

I know I should try to stop putting people in factions when I see them, but it’s an old habit, hard to break. (Tris, 16)

“People always organize into groups. That’s a fact of our existence.” (19)

It is impossible to erase my choice. Especially these. (Tobias, 23)

“Being honest doesn’t mean you say whatever you want, whenever you want. It means that what you choose to say is true.” (59)

I don’t need to relive my fears anymore. All I need to do now is try to overcome them. (Tobias, 74)

I wonder if fears ever really go away or if they just lose their power over us. (Tobias, 91)

And he’s right to say that every faction loses something when it gains a virtue: the Dauntless, brave but cruel; the Erudite, intelligent but vain; the Amity, peaceful but passive; the Candor, honest but inconsiderate; the Abnegation, selfless but stifling. (Tris, 123)

If they told us what to believe and we didn’t come to it on our own, is it still true? (Tris, 125)
— What a big, powerful question!

If someone offers you an opportunity to get closer to your enemy, you always take it. I know that without having learned it form anyone. (Tris, 324)

“Still don’t think genetic damage is to blame for any of these troubles?” (George, 353)

I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that I wake up, every dat that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. i choose him over and over again, and he chooses me. (Tris, 372)

I don’t belong to Abnegation, or Dauntless, or even the Divergent. I don’t belong to the Bureau or the experiment or the fringe. I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me—they, adnt he love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could. (Tris, 455)
— Love love love this statement!

I also know, I just know, that I can survive this. (Tris, 458)
— I love self assurance like this. Rereading this kind of made me tear up again. 🙂

Since I was young, I have always known this: Life damages us, every one. We can’t escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other. (526)

I’ll Give You the Sun

My literal soul quivered on every single page from the unexpected laughs to the warranted tears in Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun. Once again, I approached a YA novel with reservations and preconceived notions of how it would unfold. I was so very mistaken, much like the time I prejudged The Fault in Our Stars.

There is this poor idea that floats around regarding YA saying there is no depth to it. There are many great examples that prove that idea wrong, and I’ll Give You the Sun is one of those examples. The depth and richness of all the characters, especially the two main narrators, is so thirst quenching.

The plot is driven by two main characters, twins Noah and Jude. In normal twin-ness they seemingly complete each other so much so that they know one another singularly as NoahandJude. However the narration is split between characters and time frames. Noah gets to narrate the past, while Jude gets to narrate the present. The time frames are split by a tragic event that leaves both characters scarred and hurt and torn from one another until the thought of NoahandJude becomes mythical. Using art as a force to divide but ultimately heal, Nelson delivers an emotional home run, searching for what it means to be true to oneself.

The identity struggles both characters go through is so enriching and fulfilling. Jude is labeled early on as that girl and loses herself completely by trying not to be that person. Almost like she can avoid being that girl only if she is no one at all. But she has this awesome transformation that comes from her realization that she is the one who gets to decide who she is … finally realizing she can say, “No, that’s not me.”

Noah struggles with his identity, too. From the get-go of the story, we know he’s gay; he’s attracted to other guys. But he’s skirting that label (which understandably at 13 he may not be ready for); in fact, we never even hear the word, “gay,” until the last quarter of the novel, when it’s at acceptance. The pejorative, “fag,” is used; however, it doesn’t seem to stimulate any identification quandary in Noah.

Again, art is the powerhouse of this novel. Both Noah and Jude are gifted artistically and through their gifts they navigate the telling of this story. In the “present” story, Jude and Noah are hardly on speaking terms, for an array of reasons. At the turn of the novel, Jude comes up with the idea that she’ll carve an image of her and Noah from stone. I think it’s poignant that she is never able to free NoahandJude from the rock she’s carving. She doesn’t need to; they are already free.

Of course, art is also a vessel for healing. Isn’t it always? “Remake the world,” is used several times. Art is the brush that remakes the world. It definitely does so for the two main characters. It creates an entirely new world for them.

I’ll Give You the Sun is a remarkable coming-of-age story with genuine characters that are completely real to me. NoahandJude, wholly and separately, are people I know, people I want to know. The depth and the emotion this novel is able to extract from an individual makes it deserving of all the awards it has won and certainly deserving of your attention.

Favorite Passages in I’ll Give You the Sun

No one tells you how gone gone really is, or how long it lasts. (295)

But what if I don’t need her permission, her approval, her praise to be who I want to be and do what I love? What if I’m in charge of my own damn light switch? (307)

People die … but your relationship with them doesn’t. It continues and is ever-changing. (367)

Because who knows? Who knows anything? Who knows who’s pulling the strings? Or what is? Or how? Who knows if destiny is just how you tell yourself the story of your life? (369)

The Fault in our Stars

I avoided John Green’s The Fault in our Stars for some time. I read the critical acclaim. You couldn’t look at Amazon’s Top 100 without seeing it somewhere on the list. Still I resisted. I sometimes like to pretend to know what my type is — for books at least. I wish I hadn’t waited. I read the book in a 24 hour window. I almost read it in one sitting but I made myself wait. I wanted to savor! If I could recommend any book to you this year, TFIOS would be one of my picks.

It’s a rarity that an author can know his characters so well. It’s a greater rarity that I should feel so connected. I honestly feel as if I have been torn from my dearest friends as I flipped the last page and found no more words. Shailene Woodley (who plays the lead in the film) said spot on in an issue of TIME, “Some say that through his books, John gives a voice to teenagers. I humbly disagree. I think john hears the voices of teenagers.” Yes!

The novel is narrated by Hazel, who has a spectacular voice, but is considered a terminal cancer case. In a cancer support group, she meets two friends, Issac and Augustus, who become her social life outside of her parents. Slowly, her bond with Augustus grows past friendship.

While Hazel and Augustus serve as the lead characters in the novel, Hazel’s favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction (a fictitious book created by Green), steps in as a secondary character. First, it serves as an ice breaker for Hazel and Gus, and they bond over the awesomeness of the book. But the true genius stems from how well AIA parodies TFIOS.

It would be hard to talk about a book that deals with cancer and not talk about death. It lurks within the shadows throughout the novel; however, Hazel’s strength can be felt. Her wit and her drive are so intense. What’s so striking to me, though, is that while death can be so near, there are some things it can’t change — some things it doesn’t have power over. Hazel still has “teenage moments” where she snaps at her parents, where she wants to storm out. Death also can’t change love.

Hazel is also torn when she falls for Augustus. I love the inner struggle she has over whether to admit her feelings to him. She doesn’t want to be close to more people than necessary because she doesn’t want to hurt them when she dies. Her thought process is so noble it’s hard not to side with her, but love has a way of winning. Thankfully! I appreciate that Green acknowledges that we may be terminal but our love isn’t.

Augustus’s fears of dying (or really what becomes of us after death) were so thoughtful and touching. He stands in good contrast to Hazel, who maybe has accepted that she lives on the edge of life. His faulty idea that someone’s death only matters if they lived some extravagant life really captures teenage desires of fame and recognition. What he really hopes is to be seen, to matter to someone. As Hazel continually points out to him, he does matter … to her, to his friends, to his family.

The scenes where Gus is lamenting his lack of fame reminds me of a scene from Tell the Wolves I’m Home (one of my all-time favorite novels). One of the characters, Toby, says, “Because maybe I don’t want to leave the planet invisible. Maybe I need at least one person to remember something about me.” Man I’m tearing up just writing that quote. I think that’s the same place Augustus is coming from. Sometimes that’s really hard to see. It’s hard to recognize how much we matter to other and how many people we actually do impact.

The ending of the novel is, again, a perfect parallel to An Imperial Affliction. It leaves us hanging! What happens? This is so symbolic to true endings (our endings). They sneak up on us, surprise us. We are left with wonder and lingering hope.

Overall, The Fault in our Stars is genuine. That is what makes it so fantastic. Hazel isn’t some kind of philosophical saint in her last moments telling us how to live our lives. But TFIOS does take a look at very powerful themes and questions them in the light of hopelessness, hopefulness, and love. It is a powerful book that deserves to revisited if only to bring back the same laughs and draw the same tears.

Favorite Passages in The Fault in Our Stars

Depression is a side effect of dying. (3)

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was no time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.” (12-13)

I’ve always liked people with two names, because you get to make up your mind what to call them” (32)

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like /An Imperial Affliction/, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and /yours/ that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal. (33)

“Sometimes people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them,” I said. Isaac: “But you keep the promise anyway. That’s what love /is./ Love is keeping the promise anyway.”(60-61)

The physical evidence of disease separates you from other people. (144)

I know that love is a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable (153)

“in freedom, most people find sin” (157, cab driver)

“I don’t believe we return to haunt or comfort the living or anything, but I think something becomes of us.” (168)

“this childish notion that the author has some special insight to the characters in the novel … it’s ridiculous. That novel was composed of scratches on a page, dear. The characters inhabiting it have no life outside of those scratches. What happened to them? They all ceased to exist the moment the novel ended.” (191-92, Van Houten)
— So untrue! This is absolutely the complete antithesis of who Green is as a novelist and the characters he developed. I love this

Maybe some people need to believe in a proper and omnipotent God to pray, but I don’t. (201)

You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice. (209)
— This could be a summation of the novel. This novel could have made a quick right turn any moment and gone completely depressing. But Green navigated us through using moments of tenderness and humor.

The urge to make art or contemplate philosophy does not go away when you are sick. Those urges just become transfigured by illness. (212-13)

“I thought being an adult meant knowing what you believe, but that has not been my experience.” (223, Hazel’s father)
— Probably the most profound statement to me in the entire novel. Knocked the wind out of me because I feel much the same way.

You gave me forever within the numbered days (260)

My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations. (311)

You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world … but you do have some say in who hurts you. (313)

Divergent

I love an engrossing story. Who doesn’t, right? I really loved the first of Veronica Roth’s trilogy, Divergent. I have an affinity for dystopian novels, and it seems more and more that teenagers were created to be the pawns of our dystopian obstacle courses. As of late the teenage girl is serving more as this model. No complaints from me.

Whether it’s Katniss or as in this case, Tris, the coming of age story rises from the ashes of a broken world. In Divergent, Tris (short for Beatrice) must choose to devote the rest of her life to one of five factions in a very different Chicago. She has always been raised in abnegation (which values selflessness overall); however, her heart favors dauntless (valuing strength and bravery). But after a type of aptitude test serving to help one choose a faction, Tris discovers she does not fully align with any one faction. This makes her divergent — a dangerous trait.

The bulk of the novel focuses on Tris choosing her faction and then going through the initiation training. Throughout, Roth builds a political tension. The erudite faction (valuing knowledge) seeks to overthrow the power of abnegation, which acts as the political power for the city. This uprising quickly comes to fruition at the end of the novel and thus sets us up for the next two installments.

Divergent has elements of many great young adult novels, but it holds its own as being unique and authentic. Obviously it reminds me a good deal of The Hunger Games Trilogy, but it also has elements of Lowis Lowry’s The Giver, especially the sorting into different groups based on certain attributes an individual possesses (would Jonas have been considered divergent? hmm …)

I appreciate the complexity of what it means to be divergent, as well. What can be misunderstood as misfit/incomplete actually is more complete and belonging. Tris doesn’t fit solely into one category, but that’s something that should be celebrated. The fallacy of the factions resides in the assumption that these groups of people are the same. Tris’s mother explains the “danger” of divergents … and subsequently she pulls one of the greatest themes of the novel into her statement: “We can’t be confined to one way of thinking, and that terrifies our leaders. It means we can’t be controlled” (442). Control is very much what this novel is concerned with: control of destiny, control of fear, control of government, control of people, etc.

But going back to my earlier point, being divergent is exemplary of what it means to be complete. Divergents have attributes spread out across the values of each faction. One attribute cannot rule the others. They work together; they compliment one another.

Finally, I was very intrigued with the simulations that every initiate was put through. A constant phrase Tris repeats to herself as she goes through each simulation is It’s all in your mind. But she still feels fear and terror. She still feels immense pain and agony. This is such a good example of what we face in our own lives each day. Our own minds create these scenarios that torture us, whether they are our fears being relieved or a figment of our imagination. If we could only recognize that these fears our just in our mind, which ultimately gives us control and power over them — what could we possibly overcome?

I love that the divergents have the ability to manipulate the simulations. They recognize that they have power over the simulation versus it being the other way around. The simulations do not control them (they do at first, but the Ds eventually overcome them). Again, I really think that is a powerful lesson to hang on to from this novel.

I definitely recommend this novel. Roth has worked out an interesting dystopian world full of intriguing ideas and important lessons. Tris is an interesting character that grows steadily throughout the novel — an excellent choice for the narrator/protagonist.

Favorite Passages in Divergent

“I wish I could speak to him like I want to instead of like I’m supposed to.” (37)

“there might come a day when there is no flashlight, there is no gun, there is no guiding hand. And I want to be ready for it.” (138)

“My father used to say that sometimes the best way to help someone is just to be near them.” (191)

“We are not the same. but we are, somehow, one.” (223)

“Why do people want to pretend that death is sleep? It isn’t. It isn’t.” (303)

“That is death — shifting from ‘is’ to ‘was.'”(303)

“Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.” (441)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

I typically don’t read very fast. But I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda almost in one sitting. It took me back to the moments in (small-town South Georgia) high school when I knew it was time to come out. I can still remember uttering those words, heart pounding, to my two best friends, Kasey and Ame. And I remember being greeted with love and support from all my friends who were so glad that I finally decided to come out.

Anyway, this novel was so well done. I was giddy and on the edge of my seat at times trying to figure out who Blue could be. Sadly, I figured it out before the big reveal, but it was still nice. I love that this novel hammers home the importance of strong friendships and what a difference acceptance makes in the lives of gay youth.

I did think it was a little too magical that both Simon and “Blue” received almost universal acceptance — especially being set in the South. Actually it felt a little wishful when I was reading it. The story was good enough that I could over look it, but it was a little unbelievable that nonacceptance would only come from the peripheral.

Overall the novel is an excellent YA story that brilliantly captures the stress and pressure of coming out and coming into acceptance of oneself, to only then try to navigate the strange world of teen relationships. Looking forward to the movie adaptation.

Favorite Passages in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

He has an actual southern accent. Which is something you almost never hear in Atlanta, really.
— this struck me as very funny. When I first moved to Metro Atlanta, many of my friends pointed out my very southern accent. I would always retort with, “We’re in the south! What do you expect?” 😉

I mean, I feel secure in my masculinity, too. Being secure in your masculinity isn’t the same as being straight.
— Yes!! 100% yes!