Posts Tagged ‘Becky Albertalli

10
May
17

A lovely, heartwarming story about first loves. And an amazing opening sentence about peeing mermaids. CBR9 Review 30.

UnknownI’m joining in with the praise for Becky Albertalli’s follow-up to the great Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. And I’m adding Becky Albertalli to the YA Mount Rushmore, along with Rainbow, Andrew, and AS. She writes teens that seem like actual human beings, who talk like regular kids, and who make realistic mistakes. These kids are full of self-doubt and have families that embarrass them, but are also hopeful and fiercely loyal to those aforementioned embarrassing families. These kids could be living next door to me. These kids (without the CONSTANT social media aspect of their lives) could have been me and my friends in high school.

Molly (cousin of Abby from Simon vs. the HSA) and her sister Cassie are twins, yet nothing alike. Cassie is outgoing, is tall and pretty, dates girls, and is outgoing and (Molly thinks) fearless. Molly is more reserved. She’s a bit anxious. She’s described by her grandmother as being “zaftig”. And while she’s crushed hard on many boys (26, to be exact), she’s still waiting for that special first kiss.

When Cassie falls hard for adorable and cool Mina, Molly finds herself the third wheel a lot of the time. Mina has a few cute guy friends, including handsome, hipster Will. Is Will going to be crush number 27, replacing Lin-Manuel Miranda?

Meanwhile, Molly gets a job at a local boutique in her neighborhood and becomes friendly with Reid, the Game of Thrones/Tolkien loving nerd who’s parents own the shop. Molly can be herself with Reid, and they find themselves talking and laughing for hours whenever they’re together. But Reid isn’t boyfriend material, right?

Reid likes renaissance fairs and his sneakers are too white.

But he loves (and hoards! just like me!) mini eggs, so right away I knew I was going to like him.

It takes them a while to figure themselves out, but waiting for Reid and Molly to figure out their feelings was a pleasant ride. I got nervous a few times that Molly’s anxiety and self-doubt would get the best of her, but her lovely support system — including her two moms, her sister, her cousin, and her best friend — helped her to finally recognize that YES! She deserved happiness and love just as much as anyone else.

Also, the opening sentence? Amazing.

“I’m on the toilet at the 9:30 Club, and I’m wondering how mermaids pee.”

As someone who spends a lot of time at the 9:30 Club, this killed me. Those weird mermaid barbies on the bathroom stall doors are always so puzzling to me.

I look forward to seeing what Albertalli writes next.

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30
Sep
16

And the moral of the story is, never doubt Andrew Smith. CBR8 Review 49.

unknownLongtime Cannonballers know of my obsession with all things Andrew Smith. From the moment that I first read Grasshopper Jungle I was obsessed with reading as much of this work as I could, as quickly as possible. When I finished his books, I started reading the books that he tweets about and books by friends of his. I discovered AS King and We Are the Ants. So when I saw that the highly lauded Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda actually had a blurb from Smith on the cover, really, I need no further praise than that.

And Andrew Smith was right, of course. He called it “a remarkable gift of a novel.”

Here’s what I love about writers like Smith, Rainbow Rowell, and now Becky Albertalli: they write about teens, but they treat them like fully developed human beings. Their characters say things you could imagine actual people saying. They do funny things, awkward things, stupid things. They make mistakes, and sometimes learn from them. These are real people in real situations (well, except for that giant praying mantis invasion): problems with friends, questions about love and sex, wondering about sexuality and gender, balancing home life and school. You know. Stuff that literally every human goes through at some point in their lives.

Albertalli gives us the wonderful Simon, a closeted gay high school student in Georgia. Nobody knows his secret, except for two people. The first is his secret, online penpal, Blue. The second is Martin, a kid from the school play that Simon is in who stumbles across some of the emails between Simon and Blue and uses them to blackmail Simon into setting him up with Simon’s adorable friend Abby. (whoa. total run-on sentence. but its just one of those teenage situations that practically begs for run-on details).

As Simon and Blue continue to email and open up to each other about their lives and their feelings, Simon tries to figure out just who Blue might be. All he knows is that they go to the same school, but nothing else.

Meanwhile, Simon deals with coming out to his friends and family, his sister going away to college and changing the family dynamic, and the jealousy between two of his friends who both fall for the same guy.

I loved Simon’s family and their unquestioning support of Simon. I appreciated that his dad, who had made tons of gay jokes in the past, felt bad about it but had really never meant any harm. Just showing how his casual, throwaway remarks really bothered Simon was an important insight into their relationship.

When we finally find out who Blue is, I wasn’t disappointed. I wish Simon and Blue all the luck in the world and hope that someday we get a whole Becky Albertalli universe (like Sarah Dessen’s world or Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl/Landline bits) of books and get to catch a glimpse of future, happy Simon.

My apologies to Becky Albertalli, who is clearly an amazing new talent. I didn’t mean to make your review all about Andrew Smith. Its a compliment, I swear. I just can’t help myself.

 




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