Leah on the Offbeat
by Becky Albertalli
It is 2:11. I started this book at 8:34 and except for breaks to emotionally text a friend who is also reading it I read straight through. Which should give you a clue as to how into this book I was. Leah of the Offbeat is the second book in the Simonverse this time following Leah Burke, his best friend as she navigates her senior year and the rocky road to love and friendship.
Returning to this universe I had I had predictions in the first 10% of the book. I actually wrote them down because I was that confident. NONE OF MY PREDICTIONS WAS CORRECT. I am shocked at that. I read a lot, and I am well versed in foreshadowing. I am okay with this development.
Leah, as my friend put it, is all ball of angry. With resting bitch face. And I love that about her. So often female characters are soft and happy and cute. It was refreshing to see Leah just be her sharp and biting self without her anger becoming destructive or having to change her personality for her to find happiness. I was slightly irritated by the fact that she was so stunningly unaware of her own emotions. She was like, "OMG I feel a feeling. This is terrible, and I must pretend that it never happened. I had to be reminded that she is a teenager and that is kind of how they are. But I wanted to shake her, and comfort her and sit her down to help her learn to vocalize what she wants and how she feels. I am not going to spoil love interest a secret. I didn't know so I had to figure it out at the same time as Leah. I will say that this ship grew on me.
Beckey Albertalli is a master of writing about the small painful and funny moments of growing up. There is a part where Leah is shopping for a dress and overhears some other girls just talking about their bodies and has a complete internal meltdown. I relate to that scene so hard. I have lived that scene. There are some great discussions in the book about gender, sexuality, body image, and race in this book. For a book that is so funny, there is a lot to chew on. Unfortunately, for me, the "issues" part of this book wasn't as seamless and naturalistic as I would have liked. It was very character heavy some of whom felt completely unnecessary. I also found that I was distracted by my love of Simon any time that he was on the page. "Ermehgerd, Simon! Wait, is something happening in this scene?"
The Waffle House must be a southern thing. I grew up in New York, and I don't remember ever seeing them, and there definitely weren't any in the midwest when I lived there(Dairy Queen and A&W on the other hand...) I feel as if I am missing out and would like to petition for Waffle House to open an outlet in Beijing. Specifically near Dongjimen station. Please and thank you.
This is a different book than Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Leah isn't as intrinsically cute and fluffy as Simon. She has a sharpness about her which I really appreciated but isn't as comfortable to read about. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA, LGBTQIA YA in general or Simon in particular. I had to stop reading in order to laugh out loud a couple of times (like, prolonged laughing, I was really glad I was alone) and I teared up and one point. 'Nuf said.
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.