3 out of 4 stars
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Simon Powell has had a very tumultuous life. Ever since he was a boy, he knew he was gay. Much of his childhood went by in the quest of trying to fit in the norms, in trying not to disappoint his family. Afraid of not being accepted as he is, he tried different things to change himself. All of this led him through a path of ups and downs that, in the end, brought him to a rehab centre for drug addicts. Advised by his doctor, Simon decided to write his story. Starting from the beginning, he jots down every event that shaped his life. All the happy and sad things, all the things he wished he had done, and all the paths he wished he had not taken.
Simple Simon by William Poe is the story of a man who wants to find a place for himself in the world. The book focuses on his struggles, as he goes through an identity crisis, among other things, and his attempts at “purging” himself of his homosexuality. Apart from this, the book also focuses on the themes of sexual abuse, addiction to drugs and the effect of religion in one’s understanding of themselves. All in all, this book is a mirror that reflects the problems in society. The stereotyping of children at a young age, the limitations put on what someone can or can’t do, the hypocrisy of people in high places- all these issues find a place in this book.
Simon’s character, his desires, and his vices are something that everyone can relate to. All of us have had a point in our lives where we questioned the way things are, the way we are. For Simon, that point has extended to a line of events that tested his sanity, time and again. Even though he is the hero of this story, Simon doesn’t come without flaws. As he narrates his story, he makes us privy to the fact that he was a different person back when these things happened. Most of the times, we understand his motivations, but some other times, the decisions he makes seem quite irrational. And all these things are what makes him feel so real. Homosexual or not, you will definitely connect with Simon on one level or another.
Simple Simon is a very well-written book. With negligible grammatical errors, it employs an interesting narrative to take us through Simon’s story. Every now and then, we come across a hard-hitting line that sums up Simon’s feelings about his situation. It is these lines that create a strong impact on the reader and compels them to think not only about what is happening with Simon but also, about the way they perceive things. There are a lot of eye-openers in this book. It is upto the reader what they want to take away from it because it has a lot to give.
My rating for this book is 3 out of 4 stars. Although it is a great book, it suffers from an ill-executed ending. It seems rather abrupt and a couple of things feel unresolved. An ideal rating would be 3.5 because the flaws are too minor in comparison to all the good things in this book. Also, a perfect rating wouldn’t be justified in the light of these imperfections. There might be some people who would be ready to overlook these flaws. I’d suggest everyone to read this book. It’s not just for people struggling with drugs or their identity as a homosexual. It is for everyone who wants to understand human behaviour in its honest form. Simon’s story will resonate with everyone.
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