Book review: Leah on the Off Beat
Book reviews

Leah on the Offbeat – Becky Albertalli

Release date: 24 April 2018
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ – 10/10
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Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood, #2) blurb:

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.

Just quietly, I hope Becky writes a book from Bram’s point of view soon. He’s just such a sweet character, not to mention oh-so-f***ing adorable with his gooey marshmallow-ness! I just want everything amazing and good to happen to this kid because he is adorable personified. But, yeah, this is about Leah… sorry!

So, we return to Creekwood High with the gang of Simon, Bram, Leah, Abby, Nick, Garrett, Morgan and Anna. And Martin (who we all hate, it’s not just Leah and Abby) and then there’s also Taylor and Cal and Nora (she’s secretly the best). It’s getting towards the end of senior year, and everyone is focused on college acceptances and prom, so that’s the headspace they’re all in. This is also when things start to go awry as couples start getting into colleges nowhere near their other half (but never fear, Simon and Bram are eternally adorable). Also, Leah has a secret that she’s never told anyone, except her mom. She’s bi. And she’s totally got a crush on one of their friends.

I really love the insight this gives of Leah. She’s going through stuff that no one really knows about, not that she’s a big sharer (and I totally understand that). She’s just doing her thing, being sarcastic and kind of abrupt about life (I speak fluent sarcasm), and totally not wanting to make anything about her, avoiding the spotlight, being the sidekick best friend. But you totally get to see her stand up for herself too, which is amazing.

We absolutely get to see another side of some of the friends. Abby and Garrett, and Anna and Morgan are probably the main ones here. Simon is kind if still wrapped up in his own world a bit, and Bram is just adorable (have I mentioned that yet?). Nick is probably the biggest surprise though in terms of character changes. I’m not calling it development, it’s more of a regression, but very surprising nonetheless.

One thing I really like about Albertalli is that she writes amazing ‘coming out’ stories. I’m reading them like they’re crack, but I can’t help but hope they don’t actually stand the test of time. Not because they’re not amazing (they truly are), but because I hope that this just isn’t a thing in a couple of years. I hope that nothing is the default and everyone can just like whoever they like with no labels. Because, honestly, why should it matter who anyone is attracted to.

Also, is it just me, or does everyone else think that Albertalli can see into their high school self’s soul and just pour all that inner turmoil onto a page and it just resonates?! I mean, I haven’t been a teenager for over a decade now, but I totally get where these kids are coming from. It’s heart-breaking, but also connects you too them and you just want to protect them!

I am interested to see if we get any more stories from this group. They’re heading off to college now and although I’m keen to stay with them, there haven’t been many high school to college series (book, movie or TV) that do the transition well, so I’m not sure where we go next. Maybe back to Molly?

Til next time, happy reading!


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