Friday Reads: "The Summer I Wasn't Me" and "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda"

Another week, another two books checked off the Summer Reading Challenge bingo board! This week I took care of "Read a book with 'Summer' in the title" and "Read a book with LGBT themes or main characters." (Though really, both books I read fit into the latter category…) Check out my previous Summer Reading Challenge posts HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. Look! I'm one non-YA book away from getting a bingo!

Unknown-5Jessica Verdi's The Summer I Wasn't Me isn't your typical summer camp story. It's about a girl, Lexi, who gets sent to a camp that promises to change her sexuality. Finding out Lexi likes girls practically destroyed her mother, who was already fragile after the recent loss of Lexi's father to cancer. To try to make things right—to rebuild her broken family—Lexi agrees to give "de-gayifying" a shot. But of course, once she gets to New Horizons, it's not as easy as she'd hoped. The camp's views seem antiquated at best, and harmful at worst. And there's the matter of Carolyn, the gorgeous blonde who's in Lexi's support group…

This was a fascinating read. Verdi does a great job of showing the various motivations behind the campers' desire to change (or at least to try), even while condemning the camp directors' delusional and occasionally cruel methods. The most interesting point to me was that, unlike in the other book I've read with this setting (Emily M. Danforth's The Miseducation of Cameron Post), Lexi goes to New Horizons genuinely wanting the treatment to work. Her inner conflict kept me turning the pages.

Unknown-6Book #2 this week, Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (a spring 2015 release that I got to read as part of the Fearless Fifteeners ARC tour), was charming, sweet, funny, and hopeful. With this one, the reason I kept turning pages is because I so badly wanted Simon to get his happily ever after! The book is You've Got Mail for the modern age, with two smart, articulate boys. Simon has been corresponding over email with a boy he knows only as Blue when another boy, Martin, sees their emails on a school computer. Martin likes Simon's friend Abby, so he blackmails Simon into helping him score a date. Anxious about being outed, and even more about outing Blue, Simon agrees. Hijinx ensue.

Simon is a great narrator, quippy and snarky and heartfelt. He wears his heart on his sleeve in his emails with Blue—the first guy who's really made him want to open up. I definitely don't want to spoil the surprise of who Blue turns out to be, but I will say that I was smiling pretty much nonstop near the end of the book. The romance is that sweet. Add this one to your TBR for 2015! I can't wait to buy my own copy and read it again.

That's it for now… what are you reading this summer?