The past several years have been filled with plenty of best-selling young adult novels being transformed on the big screen. These films, from The Fault in Our Stars to Everything, Everything, have showcased realistic characters and mesmerizing story lines that continue to resonate with teenagers everywhere. But there are some very obvious similarities within these stories, including one that I believe stands out the most: the lack of LGBT+ representation. This can definitely be a controversial topic when it comes to mainstream movies, but raw, accurate portrayals of teenagers dealing with their sexuality and being in casual, LGBT+ relationships are easy to find in young adult novels nowadays.
An author who seems to be a champion of conveying these types of characters on paper is Becky Albertalli. Although so far she has only released two books, her career has skyrocketed recently due to her inclusive plots involving Jewish families, LGBT parents, a fat girl with anxiety and an interracial gay couple. That couple comes from her debut novel, Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda.
The book is told from the perspective of Simon Spier, a junior in high school who has yet to come out to his tight-knit friend group but is involved in an online relationship with a mysterious boy who he only knows as Blue. The only other thing he is aware of is that this boy goes to his school; neither of them know each other’s true identities.
The major conflict is between Simon and Martin Addison, the boy who happened to see one of Simon’s emails to Blue on a school computer and who also happens to have a crush on Simon’s best friend, Abby Suso. Throughout the book, the reader is taken on a journey through Simon’s eyes, as he tries to keep his love life as well as his sexuality hidden, while Martin blackmails him in order to receive a date with Abby.
If that sounds interesting, but you aren’t into reading, you should be happy to know that this book is becoming a movie! Set to be released March 16 of next year, its title has been simplified to Love, Simon, capturing the importance and focus on his emails to and from the boy.
The fact that a story like this — a boy coming to terms with who he is while falling in love with a boy he met online — is becoming a major motion picture is a big deal. It is a big deal to those who have read this novel and couldn’t believe how similar they were to Simon or any of the characters. It is a big deal to anyone who has finally been able to find themselves in a fictional character and has reread the book a million times because of it. Most importantly, it is a big deal, because for once, a teenager will go see this movie with their friends and realize how normal stories like this are.
Simon’s story is no less important than Hazel Grace’s, Katniss’ or Charlie’s. Every story resonates with every person in a completely different way; for some it may not resonate at all. But Love, Simon is going to resonate with someone, whether they’ve read the book or not. And maybe, just maybe, it will help somebody feel normal, seen and human; maybe it will give someone the same feeling that every individual should be able to experience when watching a film.