My review & thoughts on Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (contains minor spoilers from Simon vs)
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat– but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. The only child of a single mum, and her life is less privileged than her friends.
Her mum knows she’s bisexual, but Leah hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends. Not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. Prom and college are on the horizon, and tensions are running high. Can Leah still strike the right note, when the people she loves are fighting? And how can she cope knowing that she might love one of her friends more than she ever intended?
This book was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, I read and adored Simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda last year and couldn’t wait to be back with these characters once more, but this time with Leah as the main protagonist. Let me just start off by saying, I Loved Leah in Simon vs. So the fact we have a book following her perspective made me extremely happy and excited.
The story follows Leah, a talented drummer who loves to draw, as she navigates her way through senior year at Creekwood highschool, the plot follows the group of friends from Simon vs. on the lead up to prom, as they decide what universities they want to visit & their futures and how their friendships and relationships will live on.
Leah is bisexual, but isn’t out to anyone but her mother, not even her gay best friend Simon. Throughout the story we see Leah contemplate her feelings for Abby, her best friend’s girlfriend. I personally found their interactions extremely cute. Abby is such a great character with a vibrant personality.
Something I have to mention is all of the fandom aspects that were included in this book that may have made me scream a little bit. For example, Nina & Inej were mentioned from the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo (of which if you haven’t read that duology yet I highly recommend that one also!), The Harry Potter references and the fact Leah draws fandom art on Tumblr.
As much as this was Leah’s story, it was great to see Simon & Blue’s relationship develop, on the side. It was also great to see Molly, Cassie & her parents mentioned in the story! these characters are from Becky’s novel The Upside of Unrequited. I love when authors integrate characters from their other books.
The thing with Becky’s books is that she writes such authentic, flawed, relatable characters. Leah is stubborn and stands up for what she believes is right, even if it means being in an argument with her friends. Talking of great characters, I just have to mention Leah’s mum, it felt like they were more best friends than mother & daughter and I love how supportive she is and how invested she is in Leah’s friends.
This book almost had a rom-com vibe, in the best way!
There is one scene I have to point out that I do wish was handled differently, towards the end of the book, a discussion about labels was brought up and not accepting/respecting what the person is feeling, or what feels right to them and it made me feel uncomfortable and thought at least the character would apologise for what was said, as I’m sure they were in a similar situation before.
That being said I did really enjoy this book, it was great to be back with these characters once more, I’m sad that this is the last book with them, as I’d easily read more to do with other side characters. Leah on the Offbeat proves once again that Becky Albertalli, in my opinion, is one of the best YA contemporary authors of the moment.