One of my goals in 2018 was to not only read more books but to read books from more genres. However, reading teenage rom-coms wasn’t exactly on my list. But that’s exactly what happened with the book ‘Leah On The Offbeat’. I was introduced to the literary work of Becky Albertalli after seeing the movie ‘Love, Simon’. Based on her novel ‘Simon Vs The Homosapien Agenda’, I loved the movie and immediately picked up the book. After devouring the book in a matter of days, I was hungry for more and it just so happened that a sequel novel ‘Leah on the Offbeat’ was about to be released. Colour me excited! The big question is, does ‘Leah On The Offbeat’ continue the magic of the Simonverse?
A quick summary of the plot:
“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.”
Did I enjoy ‘Leah On The Offbeat’? Yes I did. A lot. Despite the focus of the story being on Leah rather than Simon, it still felt like a fully cohesive story between them. It’s just from Leah’s perspective. The story focuses a lot on Leah’s inner demons – her inability to see herself in a positive light, her lack of confidence in her skills and ultimately teenage insecurity. Leah is stubborn, moody and at times unpredictable – all common teenage angst traits that Albertalli captures so perfectly. At times, I did find Leah a little unlikeable for example when she would pick a fight with her mother when her mother was just trying to be nice. Albertalli does a fantastic job of making the reader understand why Leah is the way she is though.
With ‘Simon Vs The Homosapien Agenda’ focusing on Simon coming to terms with being gay, Leah’s story tackles her coming to terms with her bisexuality. I’m glad that Albertalli decided to focus on bisexuality rather than making Leah gay too as bisexuality is something that is still often misunderstood today. The inner turmoil as Leah tried to work out her feelings towards both Garrett and Abby was really good and very reminiscent of what a lot of gay teens go through. It’s a confusing time and the author captures this perfectly. I was surprised that Abby Suso was the love interest in this book since her and Leah weren’t exactly besties in the previous book. That being said, I did enjoy Abby’s character a lot and seeing the relationship blossom between her and Leah.
The only downside I found to this book was that it didn’t have anything that matched the brilliance of the Simon/Blue emails. That was undoubtedly my favourite part from the ‘Simon Vs The Homosapien Agenda’ book and while I’m glad Albertalli didn’t just rip it off for the sequel, I felt like this novel missed that. I did however love that we got to see Simon’s relationship with Blue after the events in the previous novel.
Would I like to see ‘Leah On The Offbeat’ get the movie treatment? I’m not sure. It’s weird because while I love both Love Simon and the novel it’s based on, there are a number of differences in the story to the point that they feel like two separate entities. The Leah we see in Love, Simon doesn’t match up to the Leah we meet in Leah In The Offbeat. If the writers could come up with a story that gets movie Leah to the point she’s in in the book then I’d be totally up for it. Just as long as they don’t make it a dodgy cash in because Love, Simon was so popular.
I think it’s pretty obvious that if you enjoyed ‘Love, Simon’ then you will enjoy ‘Leah On The Offbeat’ immensely. It’s a funny, touching and heartfelt story that brilliantly encapsulates what it’s like to grow up feeling different. Becky Albertalli is a fantastic author and I’m looking forward to reading what she comes up with next.
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