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SIMON SORT OF SAYS by Erin Bow Kirkus Star


by Erin Bow

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-368-08285-3
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Attempting to start over, a traumatized tween and his parents move to a town where electronic devices are banned.

In a tale that will put readers through an emotional wringer, Bow crafts an uproarious small-town comedy with a devastating tragedy at its core played out by a cast as memorable for its animals as its people. Having gone through a year of therapy and home schooling after witnessing the deaths of the rest of his fifth grade class in a school shooting that happens before the events of the book, Simon O’Keeffe hopes the move to Grin And Bear It, Nebraska, will let him escape the relentless notoriety and start seventh grade as an ordinary new kid. As no one in town is allowed to have a computer, cellphone, or even unshielded microwave because of the supersensitive radio telescopes nearby, things go well…for a while. He even makes friends with Agate, a classmate who cheerfully announces that she’s autistic and challenges him to a gross-out contest. (Which he easily wins, what with his mother’s being an undertaker.) Though developments—ranging from a roundup of escaped emus to being tasked with socializing a winsome puppy in service-dog training—provide plenty of warm and comical moments, the secret comes out eventually, spiraling into a crisis exacerbated by chance events and Simon’s still uncontrollable reactions to sirens and other triggers. Readers will be relieved and cheered by the way he ultimately finds both the inner stuff and outer support to weather it. The cast largely presents as White.

Adroit, sensitive, horrifying, yet hilarious.

(resources) (Fiction. 9-13)