How Love, Simon Turned Into A Phenomenon

Becky Albertalli’s book and the unexpected phenomenon’s journey from page to screen

Nick Robinson stars as Simon in Love, Simon. Photo: Ben Rothstein.

Love, Simon was adapted from Becky Albertalli’s young adult novel Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Published in January 2012, the book won the William C. Morris Award for Best Young Adult Debut of the Year and was included in the National Book Award Longlist. Albertalli never imagined that her book would be published let alone become an award-winning bestseller and now a major motion picture.

Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

“I was a psychologist when I wrote the book,” she said. “I was the mother of a one-year-old. I was writing during his nap times. I had always wanted to write a book, and decided I would give it a try. I don’t know where my idea for the plot came from, but the characters had been kicking around in my head for some time. I had this image of a messy-haired, gay kid in a hoodie, and that turned out to be Simon.”

Nick Robinson, Talitha Bateman, Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel in Love, Simon. Photo: Ben Rothstein.

Producer Wyck Godfrey, and Marty Bowen, his partner at Temple Hill Entertainment, have become adept at recognizing literature that is ideal for screen adaptation. Having produced the Twilight series and the adaptations of The Fault in Our Stars and The Longest Ride, they saw the big screen potential of Albertalli’s story. “We produce a lot of movies in the young adult space,” explained Godfrey. “Every time, you’re trying to find something new and different and fresh that feels like it hasn’t been done before. And fundamentally, we’d never seen a high school romantic comedy with a gay teenage lead. And so that was the thing with the book: we all read it and said, ‘Oh my God, nobody’s done this.’ ”

Jorge Lendeborg, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp and Nick Robinson in Love, Simon.

Born and raised in the Atlanta metropolitan area, Albertalli worked as a psychologist until 2012: “I’ve worked a lot with kids who identify as LGBTQ or gender nonconforming, and they are unquestionably some of the bravest people I’ve ever met.” she said. “As a psychologist, I’m painstakingly careful not to borrow my clients’ stories for my fiction – but in a general sense, I’m very much inspired by all the teenagers I’ve been lucky enough to know and work with.” 

  • Watch the official trailer for Love, Simon:

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