BOOK REVIEW | Educating Simon, by Robin Reardon25th October 2015
Sixteen-year-old Simon’s life is turned upside down when his mother announces that she’s met and is marrying her new partner. ★
Brian, Simon’s future step-father is from Boston, USA. Brian can’t move to England too because of his daughter Persie. So Simon is forced to give up Tinkerbell, his cat and Graeme, his imaginary boyfriend. Moving to Boston puts the shared dream of Simon going to Oxford University at risk.
The dream being shared by Simon and his deceased father. In Boston, Simon’s new life is busy both with school work and socially. As part of his school work he is assigned Toby/Kay to Mentor for a Spelling Bee. Toby/Kay is an eleven-year-old trans person, who feels like he was born in the wrong body and wants to start hormone replacement therapy before he hits puberty.Educating Simon was an idea with a lot of potential, but unfortunately none of its potential was realised.
Main character Simon writes the story from his perspective in diary entries. His character is un-relatable and doesn’t cause the reader to care about him. The character was also inconsistent. Reardon sometimes getting the mentality, emotional maturity and behaviour of 16-year-old Simon spot on and other times getting it completely wrong.
All the other characters felt two-dimensional. Toby/Kay’s storyline lacked depth and felt more like it was about having a trans representative than truly telling her story. Educating Simon is overwritten with pacing that crawled along like a snail. The book doesn’t really get started until at least fifty pages in. The sense of relief when the book finally ends was the main sense of enjoyment.
It’s not the worse book I’ve ever read, but it’s pretty close. This isn’t Reardon’s first book and I would be willing read another on of his books but would have low expectations and be wary.
Reviewed by Antony Simpson | @antonysimpson