This is really cute, and made me do this embarrassing grin and clap thing that I probably last did over David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy or Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl or Attachments. The email exchange and the way they finally meet, the way they talk to each other and fall for each other via email. The friend stuff, too; that rings true to being seventeen and everything’s a holy freaking huge deal, and everyone’s pairing up and figuring things out and misunderstanding each other.
Mostly, though, I saw myself in Simon in the earlier parts of the book. The threat of being outed at school, the people making little sly comments about it. I mean, I even had that stupid standing-on-stage moment where people started shouting homophobic stupid shit at me. I had the awesome teacher, too, though not so much the friends backing me up. And straight people thinking that being gay isn’t a big deal anymore because they’re okay with it and they’ve never seen anything happen, and being so stupidly surprised when it turns out that hey, actually, people still really freaking suck when it comes to this sort of thing.
So for all that this was silly and cute and full of pop-culture references, it hit a slightly more serious note for me. Even though the silliness and general good will came out on top. Because I’ve been there, ‘do this for me or I’ll tell people you’re gay’. I used to have people saying they’d tell my parents, teachers, sister, anyone they thought they could hit home with. This really did get hold of some of those awkward feelings, the way being outed takes something away from you, the way people can hold it over you. I don’t know if I like that, combined with the happy-silly-fun ending, but I appreciated that it was there. I’m not sure I’ve read anything before that did get what that aspect of it was like.
And in a way, I’m glad it does have that happy-silly-fun ending with the supportive family and friends and a cool boyfriend. Because real life is just too awful, sometimes.