I have this perfectly clear memory of riding in my mom’s car, discussing the movie Now and Then. The topic of Devon Sawa came up, and my mom asked me a question that completely unraveled me: “Do you think he’s cute?”
“No,” I said. “Eww.”
It was the most ridiculous, bald-faced lie in the history of lies. I’d been in love with Devon Sawa since I’d first met him in Little Giants. I became a woman the moment he danced with Christina Ricci at the end of Casper. He was the star of ninety percent of my daydreams for a solid year.
I couldn’t tell anyone. Just like I couldn’t tell anyone about the terrifying, confusing feelings I was beginning to have for certain boys in school. Stomach flutter feelings. This almost gravitational pull to be near them.
I was twelve.
There was this new version of me emerging, and she didn’t seem to want to stick to the script. I wasn’t supposed to have crushes. I’d never had one before – until I did.
Boys weren’t supposed to be cute – until they were.
It didn’t matter that other girls had crushes. Some actually had boyfriends. They weren’t me. I wasn’t sure if I was me anymore.
I struggled with this for years. Eventually, I let myself admit to liking certain actors. I covered my walls with pictures of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Joshua Jackson, Ethan Embry, and Tuxedo Mask. But I had a series of debilitating crushes on boys at school, and I didn’t fess up to any of them.
I wrote in my journal a lot. This is what I was doing when other teenagers were losing their virginity.
This was the battle I fought in my teen years: the bizarre, painful movement toward coming out as heterosexual. Or anything-sexual. There was this dawning awareness that I was changing. That I wasn’t the person my parents had always thought I was. I don’t know why this was so terrifying for me.
This is something I’ve never really talked about with anyone.
Enter Simon, who’s approximately five million times braver than me.
And who, as a gay teenager growing up in Georgia, faces a battle five million times as hard as what I went through.
My book, SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, is pitched with a description pulled from my original query letter: “You’ve Got Mail starring gay teenage boys with good grammar.”
And it is that. It’s a love story. It’s about a music-obsessed, Oreo-fiend, foul-mouthed but earnest sixteen-year-old boy falling in love over email. And it’s about what happens to him when a third party finds those emails and tries to use the information to his own advantage. It’s story about coming out. And friendship. And Elliott Smith. And emails that make you want to make out with your laptop screen.
But at its core, I think Simon’s story is about the weird, thrilling, mortifying process of getting to know your ever-changing self.
I’m so grateful that Simon found his perfect home with Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins – and I’m excited, thrilled, and terrified for you to meet him in March of 2015!
|Becky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, D.C. She now lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son. Her debut novel, SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, will be released from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in March of 2015. Follow Becky on Twitter at @beckyalbertalli.