Title: Leah on the Offbeat
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series: Creekwood, #2
Release Date: May 3rd 2018
In this sequel to the acclaimed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – soon to be a major motion picture, Love, Simon – we follow Simon’s BFF Leah as she grapples with changing friendships, 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 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 realises she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
Everything is changing for Leah now she and her friends are preparing to graduate. Prom is approaching and college acceptances have been made, but Leah slowly finds her group fracturing as relationships break down under the pressure of becoming long distance and friendships turn sour due to college rejections. Then, on her college tour with Abby, Leah finds herself struggling with feelings for her friend she thought were long-gone.
Leah has always been the odd one out among her friends, and we didn’t get a lot of her in Simon Vs. so I loved getting to know her more in this book. Leah was very much a character I could relate to, and while there were some parts of this book I wasn’t comfortable with overall it was a brilliant read and I loved seeing all my favourite Creekwood characters again, especially Simon and ‘Blue’.
Everything is changing for Leah and revealing she is bi, confronting her feelings for Abby, are just two more big changes on the horizon. However Nick is still reeling from their breakup so can Leah really act on her feelings if it means hurting her friend in the process, and what about Leah’s prom date, who clearly wants to be more than friends and who definitely isn’t Abby.
I really loved Leah on the Offbeat, however I do wish we’d got a little of the story from Abby’s perspective. The single person POV worked well in Simon Vs. because like Simon we didn’t know who ‘Blue’ was. One of the things I loved about Simon Vs. was the coming out story and Simon’s journey, and we didn’t really get that to the same extent in this book. It was all about Leah growing as a character, facing the end of high school and her feelings for her friend, and while I loved that I feel like Abby’s story would have added to it.
Leah is sharp-tongued, stubborn and unapologetic, she stands up for what she believes in and doesn’t really back down. Also I loved that we got a curvy main character who is confident in her weight, she doesn’t feel the need to diet or slim down to fit in. One of the things Leah did which I definitely identified with was fall down at the first sign of a set-back; something small goes wrong and Leah’s ready to give up completely, which is something I’ve done a few times in the past.
There’s a lot of vulnerability in Leah’s character. She only has her mother and she isn’t as rich as the rest of her friends so she can be on the outside but she doesn’t let that show. I thought the relationship Leah had with her mother was well written. Even though her mother works long hours and has a new boyfriend she’s interested in her daughter’s life, and clearly wants the best for Leah even if Leah doesn’t agree.
Abby feels more lost than her friends do as high school comes to an end. She doesn’t think her relationship with Nick can survive the long distance of their colleges and she wants college to be a fresh start. Abby struggles with her feelings a lot in this book, which is why I would have loved to see more from her POV. She isn’t sure if breaking up with Nick just before prom is the right thing to do, and she feels guilty for what it’s done to their group of friends.
The dynamic between Leah and Abby was an interesting one. Leah is closed off around Abby because she isn’t sure of herself around the other girl, but Abby is more than willing to reach out and open herself up to Leah, hoping the other girl will reach back. Abby isn’t sure what she feels of Leah, and makes some mistakes trying to figure it out but neither of them are perfect.
*Spoilers for Leah on the Offbeat below*
One of the things I hated about this book was when Abby came out to Leah as ‘a little bit bi’ and Leah pretty much turned around and said that wasn’t a thing, that Abby was either bi or she wasn’t. I don’t think you can ever tell someone how they can come out, or that their feelings and how they identify themselves isn’t valid. Someone’s sexuality and their coming out is very personal, you can’t tell them that they’re wrong and I don’t like that Leah did that to Abby.
*End of spoilers*
This is a great sequel to Simon Vs. and it was brilliant getting more from my favourite characters. It has all the characters I loved from the first book, and continues their story in a way that feels real. Everyone struggles with the idea of moving from high school to university, and the fracturing of relationships and friendships that comes with it, and I loved seeing that represented in this book.
What did you think of Leah on the Offbeat? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.