I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea. and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.
I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,
Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.
time spent in that before bed reading slot:
5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago 2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.
How are common themes handled?
5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power 4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates 1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.
Where would you keep it post-reading?
5-Next to my bed. 4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.
5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry. 3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.
Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):
5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy
This book accomplished everything Openly Straight failed.
Simon is a popular kid, but in that dorky, theater kid way. He somehow has befriended members of different social circles, and avoids any of the typical harassment, hostilities, or otherwise major common social hardships inherent to High School. Well, expect for the homophobia, but even being in the sorta south, it is astonishingly not that serious. He mostly does—gets all those great friends—through his long-term friend, Nick, who is a soccer jock, but equally a bit dorky with a guitar he is always strumming and playing a lot, a lot of video games.
His best friend is Nick, a kid he has been a friend with since he was 4. There is also Leah, the angst filled, sarcastic, sardonic character that you know MUST be in a novel about high school. This character is a lot like Juliet from Don’t Let me Go, but managed better, and more realistic. Abby is the token person of color (black, cause default), without falling into any stereotypes. And Martin is the dickhead bully. There are a host of jocks, nerds, and just your average kids, some of which are built up as decent secondary characters.
Simon befriended Blue through a Tumblr that shares a familiarity with Gossip Girls. It is a hotbed for harassment, gossip, and basically evolves into the books from Mean Girls and Cruel Intentions, but more Cruel Intentions.
There’s a lot of angst here, which doesn’t bother me, because it is remarkably close to my experiences in high school. It is nicely contained. I never really have a problem with teenage angst and think readers often forget about high school.
Martin, or Marty, the asshole of our story, blackmails Simon by screen capturing communications between Simon and Blue. The terms of the blackmail are so high school. Marty Mc’Prick wants a girl. Forced love always works.
The center of the story, and often the divider between chapters, is communication between Blue and Simon. This is much the same as Openly Straight’s paper assignments between student and teacher, but without the vast problems. They are well negotiated, and a central facet to the storyline, and have a high quality that enhances character development.
Marty’s obsession reaches its apex towards the middle of the book, and Simon’s life is ruptured in a way that he, at first, has problems relating to, which is totally understandable. It’s handled well, and there is this whole theme of ownership. Of owning your sexuality, when you ‘come out’, and its implications. There is this whole dialog the author has with the reader via Simon’s inner monologue and introspection. It’s sorta brilliant, and I could easily identify with it. So claps for you, because I’ve not yet encountered this in other Y/A gay lit.
The language/behavior’s of characters is uncommonly realistic, with all the accurate and expected emotions attached to the behaviors expressed by teenage characters. Yah, Leah you are annoying, but I get it. I get the insecurity, the self -inflicted emotional wounds, and the perpetual self-deprecation. Simon’s parents are a bit overly understandable, but the Dad’s jokes and humor may reflect some inner unresolved issues with his son’s sexuality. Leah and Nick have this weird, sorta unexplainable reaction to Simon’s sexuality. It just didn’t work. The rest are all spot on.
Some will say this is a happy book. I really don’t think this is the case. It isn’t splintering emotional, at least not in a substantially sad way. Marty’s twists in a way that reminds me a lot of Luke Chesser in Don’t Let me Go. It’s totally different, but I sorta felt for Marty. The way it ended, well it was more tragically realistic, more contained. Likewise, of course there is bullying, and while its a bit over-exaggerated, yet not overly done, and not as subtly as homophobia typically manifests in high school, it’s relevant.
The sex scenes were realistic, but not graphic. The passion between Blue and Simon was palpable. Some are going to argue that it is surely unrealistic to fall in love from anonymous emails, but do you remember being in high school?
So yah, not the emotional “wow” factor I got from Don’t Let me Go and Something like Summer/Fall, and not even close to Two Boys Kissing, but there were moments. I highly recommend this one.