Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Becky Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, gave me “all of the feels.” I had been mildly interested in reading this book (as I am mildly interested in reading most YA books, and actually most books!), but it was the August selection for Forever Young Adult Bookclub. I read this book in one night, one sitting. Just a few hours of my time for a delightful, emotional non-cliched story about Simon, a mysterious penpal, and Simon’s real-life non-internet friends.

What I really liked about this book was Albertalli’s pacing and her ability to switch between light and serious matter non-abruptly. This novel revolves so much around the ups and downs of friendships in your teens. And yes, the novel is about being true to yourself. But Simon doesn’t try to be anyone he’s not. The hurdle is telling his friends he is gay, but he doesn’t have to break any hearts to do so. And when he finds out who he’s truly been conversing with online, there is the best meet-cute ever, followed by Albertalli describing Simon and Blue’s relationship as I imagine she would write about a straight relationship. Nothing seemed forced or over-compensated for.

I would definitely read this book again.

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The Cursed Child

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS AFTER THE STARS

Every review starts the same. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is “just fanfiction.” Well I am here to tell you that your review is not original or insightful, because of course it’s fanfiction. We KNEW JKR wasn’t actually writing this. She, along with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, have their names on the cover of this book. JKR was the creative consultant, the figurehead. The play is Thorne and Tiffany’s work… and they are probably fans. If you want to call the play fanfiction, then go ahead. But please also call any VC Andrew’s or James Patterson books fanfiction as well. (I know the Harry Potter demographic is not the James Patterson demographic but as a bookseller I can tell you that people of all ages buy both Rowling’s childrens’ novels and Patterson’s adult ones, sometimes in the same transaction, for themselves).

So yes, it is technically, in the loosest sense of the word, fanfiction, and observing that does not a critic make.

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Another note that’s important to make is that this book is meant for people in their older 20s and 30s and not for the 10 year olds who have been “Reading Harry since I was four.” (Also no one has been reading Harry Potter since they were four and if their parents read it to them, they weren’t comprehending it). The Cursed Child (as well as the rest of the series!) deals with very adult, deep, dark themes. Harry is now a parent, who doesn’t have parents to look up to or ask for advice. He and his friends have suffered through tremendous loss and despair. When his son is going through similar despair, he has no way to process it as a father. Ginny has her parents and older siblings to look up to as parental role models, as do Ron and Hermione.

To compare, Malfoy himself is going through similar issues as Harry. He has a cruel father who was a pawn in Voldemort’s game. Malfoy struggles with being a Malfoy and being a good person. And does he have a good person in him? In the end, I think he does. But the possibilities provided by the time turner show he could have gone much darker than we thought.

What some saw as an “over the top” plot about going through time, I saw as a way to show our beloved characters in different incarnations. It was so amazing to see our girl Hermione as Minister for Magic, but it was also fantabulous to see her as a wanted rebel or a hardened Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. We got to see an alternate reality where Hermione and Ron did not end up together – and it was sad. I think as adults they’ve matured into their relationship and are truly meant to be together. People don’t have to seem compatible on the outside to fall in love and be very, very compatible.

At the start of my read, I thought Albus was ‘the cursed child.’ And in a sense, he is. He is cursed by family legacy. Cursed with being the black sheep of his family. Then I thought Scorpius. He is plagued by family legacy as well, and is the white sheep of the family. But once Delphi came into the picture, I think I am not alone in saying, she seemed off right away.

The flashback scenes gave me tears at every twist and turn (well, Harry’s dreams). Cedric, Hagrid, Snape, and more all showing up gave me more tears. And after all this time, I was always wrong about Snape.
The Cursed Child was a gift, and if that gift was fanfiction, well, I’m a fan. So give it all to me.

Summer Reading Program

Anyone have a summer reading list they made up for themselves?

I just finished When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanoithi and Lucy Kalanithi and will be reviewing it shortly. Spoiler Alert: This is a breathtaking, must-read.

Now onto The Great Gatsby. For me, this is a re-read… it’s one of my favorite stories despite its problems. The re-read this time is for pleasure, and in anticipation of the newest and likely last season of Pretty Little Liars.

Let’s talk books. Comment or send me a message!

The Girls by Emma Cline; published June 14, 2016.

 

When I saw The Girls A.R.C. on the table at work, up for grabs, grab it I did. I’ve had the book on my to-read list for a few months now, and so when I saw it, I felt like it was a gift.

 

From the minute I started reading I was hooked. The first line is, “I looked up because of the laughter, and kept looking because of the girls.” I was immediately transported back to my early teenage years in which I looked at the girls around me as people I wanted to emulate, love, and become. Women are magical creatures, girls are exhilaratingly so.

 

Emma Cline is my own age (25-26) but she manages to capture the 1960’s so perfectly in her book, you’d think she time traveled. I recommend this book to people in their 20’s and 30’s – especially women. You need to be at an age where you can still not just connect to your teen self, but remember your teen self, and understand where she was coming from. I was really inspired to pick up the pen after reading this novel. It was paced well, and kept my interest throughout.

 

I will definitely be looking out for more Emma Cline books in the future. She signed a three book deal, of which The Girls is the first. The film rights have been purchased as well. So this is just the beginning of Cline’s possible, probable reign as Lit’s new Queen of Cool.

 

When the movie comes out, I imagine it will be all about Russell – but the book is definitely al about The Girls.

 

Pairs well with:

The Virgin Suicides movie or book

Lana Del Rey’s Honeymoon Album