cover image Simon Sort of Says

Simon Sort of Says

Erin Bow. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-368-08285-3

Centering 12-year-old Simon O’Keeffe’s recent move to a completely off-the-grid town and told in his laugh-out-loud first-person perspective, Bow (Stand on the Sky) delivers a compassionate and refreshingly hopeful novel about a tween navigating the aftermath of a school shooting, which takes place before this book’s start. Hoping to escape the anxiety-inducing notoriety they’ve been experiencing after the event, Simon and his family move to Grin and Bear It, Neb., where all electronic devices are banned. The devices, local scientists say, would interfere with their radio telescopes, which are listening for signals of extraterrestrial activity. Since no one can google him, Simon is optimistic that he can fly under the radar and put his past behind him. He makes fast friends with classmates Agate Van der Zwaan, who is white and autistic, and half-white, half-Filipino Kevin Matapang; together, they set out to create false messages from aliens, using Kevin’s family’s contraband microwave to attempt to trick the scientists. Without detracting from Simon’s uplifting emotional arc about making peace with his past and looking toward a brighter future with friends, Bow imbues this sincere story with levity by employing madcap plot points, including several animal-centered shenanigans featuring squirrels, dogs, and emus. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jane Putch, Eyebait Management. (Feb.)

Correction: Proper nouns misspelled in this review have been updated to align with the book's final text.