Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Publication Date: April 30th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books
Series: Creekwood #2
Blurb: 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 mum, and her life is decidedly less privileged. 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.
Leah on the Offbeat brings us back to Creekwood High. Leah and the gang are in their final year of school, after which college and adulthood await. However cracks are beginning to form as everyone contemplates goodbyes and there are choices to be made about where to study and the direction each of them may be heading, and Leah has never been good at goodbyes.
I was incredibly excited for Leah on the Offbeat and being able to see beloved characters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It was amazing to see Simon & Bram again and getting to see them in relationship mode. In the end it both didn’t and did disappoint.
“Imagine going about your day knowing someone’s carrying you in their mind. That has to be the best part of being in love—the feeling of having a home in someone else’s brain.”
I saw a lot of myself in Leah. Her anxiety and tendency to catastrophise was quite similar to my own experience with anxiety so that it could be painful at times. It was nice to see that part of myself on the page. It’s also has excellent fat rep and multiple diverse characters. I love the characters Albertalli has created. There’s great banter and plenty of humour.
That said there were a couple of issues I had. The first being that it was a lot less lighthearted than I was expecting. That is on me as opposed to the book but I didn’t like to see the friendship group split up and overall there were less fluff than I was hoping for.
The second and most important point was a specific part of the book where Leah and **** are talking and **** is still working out labels in regards to her sexuality. What follows is Leah policing her sexuality and the questioning of how she identifies. As a bisexual this made me uncomfortable because everyone should have the space and time to work out their sexuality and what labels they want to use. However, I ignored it and kept reading partly because I really wanted to love this book.
It was only once Marianne from Boricuan Bookworms posted about it in her review discussing this point (found here) that I thought more on it. Given it impacted me as someone who is completely comfortable with my sexuality, it has the potential to really hurt someone who is questioning or who was just not expecting it. Despite this, Marianne was the first person I saw bring it up. So please be aware of this if you are queer and planning to read Leah on the Offbeat.
So Leah on the Offbeat is a hard one to review because I both loved it and didn’t. As with Simon vs. this book was compulsively readable and I finished 90% of it in one sitting. However, those two points listed above, particularly the second, meant I didn’t love it as much as I was expecting. I still wholeheartedly recommend it. There were parts I loved and on the other hand those elements I didn’t.
*I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own*