Title: Leah on the Offbeat
Author: Becky Albertalli
Source: Early finished copy (Thank you, Penguin!)
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.
She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.
It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
When I read Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda, I absolutely fell in love with it and read it so quickly because I was well and truly hooked. I was hoping for a similar experience with Leah on the Offbeat but felt that I didn’t quite have that experience I was hoping for again. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book but I think that because I’d read Simon in March or April and adored it, it gave this book some pretty big boots to fill.
Leah on the Offbeat is a sequel to Simon but focuses on one of Simon’s best friends, Leah. We meet Leah in Simon and so we know her character a little bit already. The plot follows Leah as she navigates senior year and what that brings. I enjoyed following the plot of this book as in the UK, our ‘senior year’ of high school is slightly different so it’s always interesting to read about schooling in other countries. We had a glimpse into the college process and what that comes with.
I enjoyed the writing in this one and felt that, while the pacing was a little slower than Simon, I still managed to get through it at a good pace. I have enjoyed Becky’s writing in both Simon and Leah and feel that she sets the pace perfectly in her books.
I’ll admit, when we first saw Leah in Simon I was a little bit frustrated by her character. I felt that she was a little bit rude and didn’t really connect with her that much. I felt that she was quite a closed off character in comparison to the others and that she gave up on things easily if they didn’t go how she wanted to. It was as if the world was against her. I also felt that her attitude towards some people could be a bit crappy. There was one time where I felt as if Leah dismissed another character’s feelings and tried to make them invalid which wasn’t such a great part of the book.
Despite my not liking Leah that much, I didn’t find her totally unbearable and I enjoyed seeing her come into her own and become the person she always had been with no need to be afraid. She is also a character that I could sympathise with and for. Ultimately, she wasn’t a bad character, she is just one that can be difficult.
I have decided to give this book 3.5 stars as although I did get frustrated by Leah’s character at times, she wasn’t so bad and I did like reading from her point of view. I also enjoyed the writing. I don’t want to compare this book to Simon as they are different books but just have the same characters in. I did enjoy this book and I’m so glad that Becky has written another lgbt+ book. I enjoy reading diverse books and I feel that Becky has delivered two solid ones to the community. I’m also glad that Becky continued the story of Simon but using a different character. It was wonderful to be reunited with these characters again.