Imagine being 12 years old and moving to a tiny Nebraska town with no internet, no TV, and no cell phone service. Heck, imagine being 40 and doing that! In this day and age, it’s almost unthinkable. Now imagine being famous for being the sole survivor of a mass shooting – also unthinkable – and needing a fresh start where no one has heard of you.
Simon and his parents move to Grin And Bear It, Nebraska, a small town set in the National Quiet Zone – a space where radio signals are banned as to not interfere with the operation of radio telescopes used by the astronomers and scientists searching for signs of life beyond our planet. His mother takes over the local mortuary, his father settles in as deacon of the Catholic church, and Simon just tries to resume life as a normal, anonymous kid. So far, so good – no one here can Google him. He can make up whatever goofy story he wants about why his family relocated.
Then disaster strikes. And keeps striking – a rogue squirrel ransacks the church’s communion wafers, a flock of emus get loose, the mortuary’s driver loses a body, a tornado bears down on the town… and someone finds out Simon’s secret. In the midst of his family getting all the wrong kinds of attention, Simon and his friends scheme a way to shift the focus from him to the stars, using a forbidden microwave, a metronome, and a whole lot of math.
Despite the devastating tragedy underlying the story, this was actually one of the most hilarious books I’ve read in a while. The author, originally from Iowa, lived in Nebraska for a time, and is familiar with the state’s geography and love of football. There is so much to love about Simon and his family and friends, as well as the odd little town they find themselves in. If you are looking for an entertaining read that will make you laugh AND cry, Simon says read this book!
Bow, Erin. (2023). Simon Sort of Says. Disney Hyperion.