This month Cassie and I finally coordinated our schedules to discuss Caraval by Stephanie Garber for the Spines With Wines book club! Caraval was supposed to be our February book of the month, but we just couldn’t get it together for our liveshow until the first weekend of April. So we’ve decided to skip March (since it’s over already anyway) and we’ll be resuming with our April book of the month. You can view the full video below:
April Book of the Month:
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting. This week I’m choosing The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli because I will read anything Becky Albertalli writes! I sincerely hope that The Upside of Unrequited can capture even half of the magic of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda because it would be an immediate favorite. The cover for this book was just recently released and I love the colors. It perfectly compliments the Simon cover so I’m envisioning many bookstagram photos of the pair of them<3
“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back.”
What does a sixteen-year-old girl have to do to kiss a boy? Molly Peskin-Suso wishes she knew. She’s crushed on twenty-six guys…but has kissed exactly none. Her twin sister Cassie’s advice to “just go for it” and “take a risk” isn’t that helpful. It’s easy for her to say: she’s had flings with lots of girls. She’s fearless and effortlessly svelte, while Molly is introverted and what their grandma calls zaftig.
Then Cassie meets Mina, and for the first time ever, Cassie is falling in love. While Molly is happy for her twin, she can’t help but feel lonelier than ever. But Cassie and Mina are determined to end Molly’s string of unrequited crushes once and for all. They decide to set her up with Mina’s friend Will, who is ridiculously good-looking, flirty, and seems to be into Molly. Perfect, right? But as Molly spends more time with Reid, her cute, nerdy co-worker, her feelings get all kinds of complicated. Now she has to decide whether to follow everyone’s advice…or follow her own heart. (via Goodreads)
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is a contemporary romance that I made a number one priority for 2016. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about this LGBTQ+ novel since it’s debut last year and I recently included it in one of my Top Ten Tuesday lists. The novel is a coming out story told from the perspective of Simon, a high school teenager who hasn’t come out yet. Like any teen, Simon struggles with his identity and what it is that makes him who he is. He has a solid group of friends and a wonderful family and a love interest who goes to his school but since they communicate exclusively via email his identity remains unknown. I loved everything about this book and I was amazed at how quickly I read it but I honestly could not stop. I read an e-book version that I picked up on sale during December but I love it so much that I ordered myself a hardcover copy for my shelves!
Simon is one of my favorite YA characters probably ever. I love his voice and being in his head is delightful. He has a manic sense of enthusiasm and he obsesses over the things that are the biggest deal to him. He’s both confident and vulnerable and I just want to hug him. Everything about him feels so real and genuine and I’m sure anyone who readsSimon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda will be able to identify with the struggles Simon faces. Besides sharing an affinity for Oreo’s and having a major sweet tooth, Simon is a theater geek who enjoys comics, Doctor Who and anime. He is such a real and fleshed out character that it’s impossible not to feel invested in his story. Even the side characters, from the most minor to that almost majors, are completely developed which enhances the story even more. Because Simon has such a strong support system of family (the parents who want to be the cool parents but really care about their kids, an older sister Alice who’s in her first year of college and a younger sister Nora who keeps to herself) and friends (Nick, his music-loving, guitar-playing, video-game-addicted best friend, their third musketeer Leah, an sassy and sarcastic anime lover who dresses up as a Fruits Basket character for Halloween, and the new girl Abby who’s loving and accepting). Even Martin, the antagonist who blackmails Simon is given depth.
The mystery surrounding Simon’s virtual love interest kept me completely hooked but even if the story had focused on anything else, I would’ve been just as engaged. Throughout the novel I would make guesses as to who I thought “Blue” might be and I am so happy to say that I was completely surprised and delighted once his identity was revealed. It feels so realistic to see a teenage relationship progress via email since communication via the internet is where many people feel the most comfortable being completely open and honest. I would be willing to bet that I looked forward to Blue’s emails almost as much as Simon did and the banter between them was absolutely adorable. There is a definite bond of friendship that formed between Simon and Blue and they come to rely on one another for distractions when their offline life feels too complicated. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a story about finding first love, finding yourself and figuring out what your identity is.
Final Thoughts: READ THIS BOOK. I rarely think a book will appeal to everyone on a mass scale but Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is something SPECIAL. Within the first few pages you’ll fall in love with Simon and his narrative and throughout the course of the novel you’ll experience all those feelings of first love over again. Every single character so much as mentioned in this book has a very distinct and completely fleshed out identity. Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is an LGBTQ+ friendly story but it’s pretty solid proof that love between people, no matter what they identify as, manifest the same feelings as any “traditional” relationship.
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. (via Goodreads)