BOOK REVIEW: ‘Leah on the Offbeat’ exceeded all of my expectations

Since I absolutely adored Simon vs. the Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, it’s safe to say that I had high expectations for its sequel, Leah on the Offbeat. But regardless of how high my expectations were, it still exceeded them.

While Simon vs. was told from the point of view of Simon Spier, Leah on the Offbeat is told from the point of view of his best friend Leah Burke. The book follows Leah as she struggles with all kinds of things, including her sexuality, weight, and the impending stress of college.

It’s hard to say too much about how I feel about it without spoiling anything, especially since it is a sequel, but I’ll try my best.

First of all — Leah is bisexual, and so is her love interest, which is the kind of representation I’ve been waiting for. Albertalli does an amazing job at portraying this and the spectrum that bisexual people can fall on.

One of the characters says they’re “a little bit bi,” clearly attracted mostly to men but still attracted to women, while Leah seems more balanced in her attraction to the two sexes.

As someone who has struggled with defining my sexuality because my attraction isn’t balanced, I loved how Leah on the Offbeat showed those two different perspectives, even if Leah gets kind of mad at her love interest for not being definitive. Things aren’t always so cut and dry and easy to define, and it’s so, so important that teens know this.

And that’s another thing I loved about the novel — Leah is such a realistically written teenager. She can be selfish, impatient, and have a bit of a temper, getting mad when anger isn’t that justified, but she’s still such a lovable, flawed character.

While she can be angry, she’s still so soft, and all of her interactions with everyone — from her mom, to Simon, to a boy with a crush on her — are so pure. Reading from her perspective is something that I thoroughly enjoyed and could not bear to put the book down (I finished it in less than 24 hours).

Also, Garrett has much more of a presence in this novel and he’s so pure too. I love my tiny son and I hope he’s happy in whatever universe he is in.

This book and its characters are just too well-written to ignore.

I will say, though, that Leah’s relationship with her love interest felt forced at times. Based on the dedication at the beginning of the novel, it’s clear that Albertalli did not have this book’s premise in mind when writing Simon vs., and that sometimes shows in the novel itself.

The way the other character acts or speaks to Leah doesn’t always seem to fit the way they were written in the first book, and it often felt like mere fan service. And this is coming from someone who was begging for this relationship from the get-go.

It just didn’t feel natural, and I think that may be because it didn’t come completely natural to Albertalli when writing it.

But that being said, it was easy to overlook that small detail and enjoy the book for what it was: a wholesome young adult novel about a bisexual teenage girl. And I needed that so much.

I look up to Albertalli for all she does, and I hope to write characters and stories as well as she does some day.

Thanks for reading! Have you read Leah on the Offbeat yet? Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!

To keep up with me outside of this blog, follow me on twitter at @stephclaires and on instagram at @lovelyliterati

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