Book Review: See Ya, Simon by David Hill

Title: See Ya, Simon

Author: David Hill

Genre: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 111

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes


See Ya, Simon is a touching story of the last year of a boy with muscular dystrophy’s life and the effect that has on his best friend.

Simon is funny, smart, and dynamic. He’s Nathan’s best friend and they spend hours playing D&D and obsessing over girls together. Simon, however, is also sick. Very sick. Muscular Dystrophy has caused the deterioration of his muscles and he’s getting weaker and weaker.

Simon knows he’s going to die and faces the inevitability of it with toughness and a raw honesty. Simon’s parents are kind of supportive people and Nathan’s mom helps him deal with the sadness he feels over Simon’s situation. There are no surprises in this book, right down to Nathan liking one girl and then eventually realizing he prefers the sweet, plainer girl who makes corny jokes. Simon is a bit too much of a poster child and doesn’t really have any strong moments of weakness or vulnerability.

He deals with his disability in a way that is thoroughly commendable but sometimes less than realistic, with unwavering strength and dignity. I did appreciate Nathan and Simon’s friendship and the rollercoaster of emotions Nathan (the narrator) goes through, including relief that he’s not Simon and a guilty appreciation of his own health and future.

I found that particularly believable and I liked that Nathan had so many kind adults who supported him and Simon throughout their struggles. This book teaches you a lot about MD in a way that’s not too didactic and Simon tells his classmates about other kids he’s met at the hospital’s individual handicaps and experiences.

I think it’s a great way to encourage empathy in middle grade students towards people who are different. I would have liked to see more tenderness in the relationship between Nathan and his sister Fiona (his attitude towards her was overwhelmingly negative throughout) but I totally get that some sibling relationships are like that, especially when you’re young.

This book is set in New Zealand (which isn’t a place I read about often) and even though it was published in the 90’s I think it’s aged surprisingly well, despite occasional casual use of the ‘R’ word. It’s sad without being tragic and is a good choice for kids 8+. I’m 27 and I enjoyed it but I think I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was younger.


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