*Disclaimer: There may be some spoilers in the following review, READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED*
Hey everybody, I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Here’s my review on Leah On the Offbeat 🙂
Leah on the Offbeat [which I may refer to as just Leah during the review] follows the characters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda [which I may refer to as just Simon during the review], but this time from the perspective of Simon’s best friend, Leah Burke. Leah feels different from her friends, as she is the only one being raised by a single mother and doesn’t have as much money at her disposal as her friends do. She also hasn’t come out to anyone, except for her mother, despite having known since she was eleven that she is bi, and the fact that her best friend Simon, came out publicly the year before. For the last year, she’s had a crush on someone who she really shouldn’t be, on top of dealing with other insecurities that she has about herself, such as her body and her skills in drumming and drawing. It’s the end of senior year, and Leah is just trying to get through the last few months of high school with graduation and prom, when drama seems to be trying to tear her friend group a part.
The plot basically follows the cast of Simon through the last few months of senior year, as the rising tension and stress from leaving high school to start college manifests itself in every character in some form. There is prom planning, questions about dream colleges, and what life after high school is going to be like in general. Leah specifically explores her feelings for somebody who she couldn’t before, as unforeseen circumstances popped up, making Leah question that relationship. She also is figuring out how she wants to pursue drumming and drawing, even though she doesn’t think she’s good enough to warrant anyone having any interest in her concerning those hobbies. There is also the question of her mom’s relationship with her new boyfriend, Wells, which Leah doesn’t believe will last. Leah takes us through Leah’s journey of slowly becoming more confident in herself as she prepares to finish one journey and begin another one.
The plot itself was very quick pace, and easy to follow, so I was able to finish it in a matter of a couple days. If you’re looking for a quick read as summer is beginning, I would recommend Leah on the Offbeat.
I want to start off by saying that Becky Albertalli does a great job including a diverse cast, which brings up a good discussion around issues they may face as a group. When I read Simon, the characters were all lovable in some manner, and I would say that in Leah, that kind of changes a little. Each character is seen a little more in depth, and their flaws and hardships come out a little more in this novel. One reason for this is because Leah is more cynical than Simon, and may even notice these things more, plus there is more drama occurring within the friend group itself, as opposed to in Simon, when the main conflict was occurring within Simon himself.
I liked reading from the perspective of Leah, as it was interesting to see how she interpreted some of the events from Simon, and how that affected everyone during their senior year. The only problem I had with reading from her perspective, was how negative she could be. There was a little bit of character development towards the end of the book, but for most of it, she could be negative to the point of whiny and judgmental, which made it a little harder for me to enjoy the story.
I love Becky Albertalli’s writing style, as it has the right youthful sound for a YA story. She uses a lot of pop culture references, especially Harry Potter, so if you’re someone who isn’t really into that, I would probably not pick this book up. Personally, I think the Harry Potter references were a little too much for me, as I liked the books, but I’m not obsessive about them. However, I remember back in high school I was more into Harry Potter, and had a lot of friends who loved it (basically, it reminded me of when I was in high school 😂). I like how she integrated modern technology and pop culture into the story, as to me, it enhanced the story, as opposed to “Oh let me throw in some stuff that will make my story sound more modern and like I’m trying to make my characters seem like teens”. I think she also does a great job voicing teen characters, as she doesn’t make it seem like an adult trying to emulate a teen, but let’s the characters speak for themselves. If you are into YA books that have that more youthful voice in it, and can be a quick read, then you would love Beck Albertalli’s writing (Although I would suggest reading Simon first before reading Leah).
I enjoyed the book for the most part and found it to be an easy read (I bought the book Friday and finished it Saturday night). It was fun, and the only issue I had with it was that Leah could be almost too cynical and judgmental at times, which put me off the book at points. Besides that, I thought it was a good second book for us to continue following the stories of the characters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and would recommend it if you enjoyed Simon. Overall, I would give Leah On the Offbeat 4/5 stars.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a good rest of your week!