Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
From Goodreads: Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s 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.
I was so so excited to get round to this book. I read Simon… last month and loved it. It was awesomely diverse and just so fluffy and perfect. Leah on the Offbeat is similar in the issues it tackles and raises, and sometimes it feels a bit too similar plot-wise to book one, but it still feels sweet and wonderful enough that it didn’t bother me too much. Leah is quite prickly, and she tends to react to things with a bit of a short fuse or jumping to the wrong conclusion, but I found it was very relatable– I thought it was cool that she felt like she was being left out or left behind a lot of the time. Again, as someone who has often felt like that, I thought it was great to see a strong female character who actually experienced things I’ve gone through. On top of that there’s so much diversity that I totally swooned reading Leah… There are bisexual characters, there are gay characters, there are people of different ethnicities, people who have mental health issues, people with realistic body types and at no point did it feel like tokenism– it’s just a very realistic and awesome story which tackles some of the problems people face when questioning their sexuality or their attraction to someone else– I thought it was interesting how Leah spent so much time wondering if the person she was attracted to was straight or not. Also, there’s some amazing points in this book about how bad it is for straight girls to pretend to be gay to tease people, and how some guys see bisexuality or lesbians as aimed at them. There’s a scene where one guy sees two girls outside a bathroom and offers to go inside with them for a threesome, suggesting that any romantic chemistry between two female characters is acceptable so long as he can watch/join in, which is just so SO gross and made me cringe so much reading it. Ew.
Sometimes, it felt a little too fluffy, like a rom-com which is predictable from the first scene. There’s the parent dating someone knew thing, and there’s the prom drama and yeah, there were moments when it just seemed like I knew exactly what was going on as soon as I opened the book, which was a bit of a disappointment, but again, I still felt that the readability of the novel made me look past this. Mostly, it was just great to get to read more about the characters I liked so much in Simon…
Overall, I’m giving Leah on the Offbeat a 7/10 stars. It was a great book, and I enjoyed reading it a lot, but I felt as though it was a bit predictable.
That’s all folks. I know this is a very popular book, so I’d love to know what y’all thought of it in the comment section 😀