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.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Going into Leah On The Offbeat I was a little wary. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Leah in Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda so I wasn’t sure how fun reading an entire book from her perspective would be. I had also been spoiled as to what the endgame was and I was cautious. It was one of my potential ships but I just wasn’t sure how Albertalli would handle it. I trusted her though because both of the books she’s written so far have been phenomenal so I went into it with an open mind. I’m really glad that I did because it was honestly amazing. I think I like it even more than Simon VS( yes it’s that good.)
First off while the reception to this book has been for the most part positive, I’ve seen some really disturbing reviews where they describe it being akin to fanfic and talking about how they much prefer the interactions between simon and his boyfriend than the actual couple that was being highlighted. That’s not okay. You may well as say that you just don’t like books with sapphic characters because that’s really what you’re implying. How is Leah ending up with a girl fanfiction??? You do know that are sapphic couples in real life right? They just don’t exist in fiction so I really fail to see how on earth Leah On The Offbeat is like fanfiction. Also your fetishization of mlm couples is showing and it’s disgusting. It’s really disheartening for people to fame over male gay couples and then completely disregard female ones. It’s disgusting and your queer phobia is showing.
Anyway side rant aside, I think that having a book entirely centered around Leah was the perfect way for me to really appreciate her as a character. In Simon Vs. I found her to be a little cold and just not that of an appealing character but reading from her perspective made me really understand who she was. Seeing her innermost thoughts and insecurities really helped me to understand the persona she put forward. Leah is the amazing fat bi Slytherin MC that we all deserve. I related to so much of the things she went through especially how she catastrophized everything and as an anxious person the way she blew everything out of proportion was very relatable.That scene where she was prom dress shopping was lowkey me last year. I’ve never felt more seen. I also really related to the way she approached her sexuality and honestly Leah is such an amazing character and honestly one of the most relatable characters that I’ve read in a long time.
Becky Albertalli honestly just has this amazing way of writing teen characters that feels so authentic. She understands teens so well and the way she crafts all of her characters is amazing. Her incorporation of diversity is also impeccable and you can really tell how much it matters to her. Since she’s an allocishet white women she hires sensitivity readers to make sure the rep is good and unproblematic. Shes just such a great example of an ally who’s aware of her privilege and never tries to overstep and it’s really amazing to see her write books with amazingly diverse characters.
I also really appreciated how even the side characters were well developed. Obviously since this is a sequel to Simon, we’ve already established side characters but I really loved how we got to see all the characters from the previous book. It was of course first and foremost a book about Leah but you had some really great moments with Simon, Blue, Abby, Nick, Garret and just all of the characters you loved in the previous book. I did feel as though the way that Nick was treated during the book wasn’t the best and I just wish there could have been more of a resolution in the end. Other than that, it was amazing and I loved seeing our favorite Creekwood students freaking out of over prom ( that American doll scene has me in tears it was so funny oh my god) and college. I’m really sad that Becky is never coming out with more books in the simonverse but I think that Leah was the perfect conclusion. I’m just sad that it’s over and we’ll never know more about these amazing characters. I’m going to miss Creekwood.
While I was wary about the endgame, I found myself loving it to bits. I am not a person that cries because of books which is kind of weird because I cry all the time but Leah had me in tears many time. Not really because it was sad but there are so few popular books featuring f/f couples so this book really meant a lot to me. Becky is one of the queens of contemporary and knows how to create the best chemistry and Leah was no exception. It was adorably cute and I’m so glad that that’s the direction that Becky decided to take with Leah’s love interest.
Update: I just saw a review written by the wonderful Marianne where she highlighted a scene that was problematic and hurtful. I am bi and to me it didn’t catch my eye as being problematic but that doesn’t mean other bi ppl won’t get hurt by it. I rlly recommend reading her review so you go into the book knowing what you’re getting into. I also lowered my rating from a five to a four point five to reflect this problematic scene.