Review: Robin Reardon – Educating Simon

18723585Author: Robin Reardon
Reviewer: Stephen
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre: M/M Contemporary
ISBN: 9780758284761

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Summary:
Simon Fitzroy-Hunt is English to the core, smarter than most and set on attending Oxford University – his late father’s dream. But now his newly-remarried mother is dragging him to Boston, forcing him to leave behind his boyfriend and his beloved cat. Simon’s new school seems even more demanding than the one he’s left behind, and life gets much more complicated when he is assigned to coach 11-year-old Toby, a transgendered student who has kept his true identity hidden.
Review:
Simon Fitzroy-Hunt has inherited a few things from his late father. His synesthesia, (the ability to see letters as colors), his academic ability and his desire to go to Oxford. Unfortunately his mother has met a new man (from Boston) and since the man has an Asperger’s afflicted child, they’ve decided that it’s Simon who’ll have his life up-rooted. The family is moving to Boston despite Simon’s objections. Simon’s even losing his beloved cat because the man’s daughter is unable to deal with animals.

Educating Simon is another of Robin Reardon’s titles that suggests that there may be more than one way to interpret the title. For the most part, Simon seems to be largely educating himself — admittedly with the help of his parents, his school councilors and with his friends and life experiences. And its a good thing too. He’s smarter than most of those around him (if not always wiser)

This is a fascinating look at one transplanted Brit gay boy’s transition from “wingeing” schoolboy to capable adult. In Boston, his Britishness is just another way he’s different. There’s a reason that most good bildungsroman feature a MC that’s just moved. Moving gives one a chance to redefine and re-invent one’s self and for Simon that works out to being a good thing.

As it’s the author’s home, the Boston location informs this story more than the locale in her other works. The story even features the Boston Marathon bombing but that tragedy doesn’t shanghai the story or feel like it was just a prop. It’s just another organic part of the tale and it contributes to Simon’s development and that of his new sister.

The supporting characters in this tale; Toby/Kay, the 12 year old trans-gendered spelling prodigy that Simon tutors, Percy, his Asperger’s afflicted sister, Toby’s father and mother, even Ned the cook, are all given more development than supporting characters in many modern works and as a result they make the main character’s journey even more interesting.

Even Simon’s decision to lose his virginity is dealt with in an interesting way that serves the overall thread of Simon’s growth into adulthood. Michael, the ex-possibly gay, now straight edged, Italian Art Student, and Luther, the obviously experienced but a bit selfish bi-guy, both had me rooting for them at one point neither is painted as just a two dimensional . The contrast between the two just served to make the romantic aspects of the story even better.

Simon’s character grows. He’s continually examining his own life and his POV changes as he attains a more adult perspective. So much so that I was surprised when I went back to an earlier part in search of a plot detail that I’d missed.

I highly recommend this. Robin has crafted another smart, charming read about a teenager on the cusp of coming into his own. It works as a coming of age story. It works as a character’s coming out story and the romance angle is there as well. It’s yet another of Robin’s tales where the story reaches a logical end but we would be content to see the story continue.

Two confessions…
I’ve always been a bit of an Anglophile so Simon had my sympathy from the start
and two
I got a free copy of this from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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