Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (Creekwood #2)
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 24th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT+
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.
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli is companion/sequel to her critically acclaimed contemporary Simon Vs. the Homosapiens Agenda. This time around we follow Leah Burke, Simon’s best friend and resident drummer.
When I heard we were getting a Simon companion novel last year I was over the moon with excitement. When we found out it was going to be from Leah’s POV but still feature Simon and the crew I was totally on board. But I have mixed emotions and it pains me to even be writing a not so pleasant review.
First let me talk about the things I liked about the book… Simon and Blue.
Yup, that’s pretty much it. Simon and Blue stole the show. From their strong relationship, to the promposal, to the going away to college drama that ensues. I seriously wish Albertalli just wrote a direct Simon sequel from Simon and Blue’s POV. After reading Leah On the Offbeat, that’s what I wished it was.
Now on to the not so stellar parts. Leah as a character for one. Who is this Leah and where did she come from? Because this is not the Leah I remember from Simon. This Leah was quite unlikeable in my opinion. She is rude to almost everyone, and she complains and she whines but does nothing to solve her problems. I didn’t enjoy her POV at all and her internal monologues were making me angry.
There was one scene in particular that rubbed me the wrong way. So we know pretty early on that Leah is bi-sexual and still in the closet. But later on when her long time crush confesses her bi-sexuality as well by saying she is “low-key bi” and then Leah turning around pretty much dictating to her that, that is not a thing, made me want to throw the book. Making the other character feel invalid was down right disrespectful. It still makes me mad that Albertalli didn’t handle this situation better.
Another situation that urked me was the whole racism bit. It was totally not needed and adds nothing to the overall plot of the story.
Aside from those scenes I feel like the overall story was a missed opportunity to be something greater than what was put on page. I hope that for Albertalli that this was just a misstep and not the way she will be writing her future books because this was just a disappointment and seemed more like well written fan-fiction than a story with substance.
Simon will always remain one of my favorite gay contemporaries and I hope for more stories like that one in the future.
That is all.
Have you read Leah On the Offbeat? What did you think of it?
Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,
BECKY ALBERTALLI is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.