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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
Yay, another classic Becky Albertalli story! I was equal parts nervous for this book to come out (the synopsis looked a little too "cutesy" for me) and crazy excited (we get to see Simon, Bram, and friends again!) so I immediately dove into this book when it came out. And I'm so happy I didn't wait; this was such a great story and I loved getting to spend more time with Leah. I wasn't sure what to think of her just based on her role in Simon vs. and I'm so happy that Albertalli chose her as the main character for this book. Leah is anxious, badass, comfortable with her weight but nervous in her skin, and happens to also be bisexual. She could basically be any teen in any high school today, and I loved reading her story. Leah on the Offbeat brought back something that was missing from The Upside of Unrequited and I'm just so happy!
There are so many sexual possibilities that society is finally starting to recognize and accept and it's wonderful to read about a character who is bisexual. Reading Leah's story is so powerful because she's going through (like Simon) so many things that hetero teens will never have to worry about: how to tell your parents/friends, what happens when you fall in love with someone who is straight, how to deal with flirting when it's not meant to be more, and how to fully embrace who you are publicly. This isn't just Leah's story, it's the story of every teen who isn't sure who they are or are afraid to be open about it because they aren't sure of the reaction from the person/people they tell. And Leah also has the added challenge of having to deal with people making jokes about girls hooking up and how "sexy" it is. It's true what Abby's cousin says: there's nothing worse than straight girls screwing with the emotions of lesbians/bi girls just because they want to "try something new". There's definitely a different element to being bisexual or lesbian for a girl, and we see that difference in Leah's story vs. Simon's.
Leah's story is important, just like Simon's is, because it's both normalizing non-hetero relationships and characters, and also reaffirms to people that it's ok not to be the same as everyone else. With movies like Love, Simon breaking barriers by being one of the first non-indie films about a gay protagonist, and stories like Leah on the Offbeat, we are finally seeing more LGBTQ++ novels being published and it's absolutely wonderful.
YES to Harry Potter References!
I couldn't love these moments more. One of my favourite things about Simon vs. is all of the Harry Potter references and I LOVED that they were continued in Leah on the Offbeat. As an obsessed Harry Potter fan, nothing warms my heart more then meeting other fans, especially when they are fictional so that I can now obsess over their obsession! Some of my favourite moments include:
"Am I the worst person?"
"Well, no," says Simon. "That would be Voldemort." (<--- queue me laughing out loud)
"Okay, it's silly, but I've always wanted one of those holy shit teen-movie moments. Like when the skinny nerd girl walks downstairs in red dress. Or Hermione at the Yule Ball." (<--- HECK YES!)
"How did you get so cynical?"
"I can't help it. I'm a Slytherin."
And I'm the worst kind of Slytherin. I'm the kind who's so stupidly in love with a Gryffindor, she can't even function. I'm the Draco from some shitty Drarry fic that the author abandoned after four chapters. (<--- so much LOVE!)
Really Awesome Parents
I love that this book (like all of Albertalli's books) gives us a positive relationship between teen and parents. In this case, Leah's mom is pretty awesome. Leah tells her everything, including coming out as bi-sexual when she was 11, and her mom is nothing but supportive. It's honestly amazing to read about -- that there can be adults in the world that are actually friends with their kids, and respect who they are. I also love that Leah's mom is one of the people to call her out on Leah constantly "burning everything to the ground whenever something goes wrong". It's so true and Leah needed someone to say it to her; as amazing as Simon is of a friend, he lives in a clouds a bit and wouldn't have been able to get Leah to see this about herself. Parents in these books are there to support their kids and I honestly love reading about them; they are the type of parent I want to be one day.
I thought this book was so well done and I loved reading about these characters again. I would absolutely love to get another story from Albertalli in the future so that we can see these characters again, and see how their lives are going. She's created some truly dynamic and wonderful characters and they all have a special place in my heart (and a prominent place on my bookshelf!).
If you loved Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (or even just the movie Love, Simon) you need to read this book. These stories just continue to get better.
FINAL RATING: 5/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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