Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Book Title: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Published by: Balzer + Bray on April 24th, 2018
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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.

Okay, I'll admit it. I was so super nervous about reading this book. I wanted so much to love it as much as I loved Simon, but I was absolutely terrified that I wouldn't. Simon held such a special place in my heart and reading the synopsis of Leah on the Offbeat made me smile.

Literally two seconds after opening this book I was grinning like a madwoman. Right away, I knew this book was a sequel to Simon. Right away I had the same feelings about this book as I had about Simon. I connected with the voice almost instantly and I just love when that happens. I wasn't expecting to connect with it so quickly, but I loved that I did.

The bisexual rep in this book was A+ I absolutely loved it and definitely connected to it. So many things that Leah said about bisexuality and about being bisexual totally resonated with me and it's rare that that happens and I credit Albertalli for that. There's a scene in this book where Leah is getting mad about a guy who doesn't seem to see another girl as competition for Leah. And that hit me. Hard because bisexuality erasure does exist and anyone who thinks it doesn't is an idiot. 

It's like a person can't be bisexual. You have to be either gay/lesbian or straight. People just don't understand how bisexuality works. And bisexuality is as individual as the person who identifies as bisexual. Take me for example, I used to be more into guys than girls, but now I'd say it's 90% girls & 10% boys. I know other people who identify in a totally different way. And that's okay. It doesn't make them any less bisexual.

Leah struggles with not liking a boy as much as she thinks she should and I totally understood that too. To her, it felt like she should like this guy because he's overall a good person, but of course that's not enough. Not when she's falling for someone else. And she knows it's not fair to the guy to keep stringing him along. She does kinda string him along longer than she should have and that bugged me a bit.

Leah's affinity for calling out racism & all other kinds of discriminatory things made me grin. Especially when she calls out her so-called friend, Morgan for saying something racist about Abby. Yes, the very same Abby who I loved in Simon. Morgan tries to claim it as the truth which Leah promptly shoots down. Again, I love Leah.

Leah's relationship with her mom was really interesting to watch. I loved her mom, even when she said something like "My little prom fetus" Actually that quote made me laugh until I cried. I don't know why, I just loved it. I was worried Leah's mom's boyfriend, Wells, would be a creep, but he wasn't. He actually seemed to be a really cool guy from the little we saw of him. I did understand Leah's hesitancy on getting to know him. It had just been her & her mom for the longest time, and like a toddler, she didn't want to share her mom with anyone. Selfish, yeah probably, but my mom & I have that kind of closeness too so I was able to relate.

Overall, I liked the romance better in Simon, but I did still enjoy Leah's romance in this book. It made me smile & cheer in all the right places. I just love when a romance does that. It makes me happy. I didn't expect Leah to end up with this person, but I enjoyed the progression from friends to a couple.

Final thoughts: So good, especially the bisexual representation. Read it even if you haven't read Simon yet.

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