“I swear, people can’t wrap their minds around the concept of a fat girl who doesn’t diet. Is it hard to believe I might actually like my body?”
Oh, hey guys! Look - another Becky Albertalli book. Are you surprised like at all? If you’ve been around for awhile, you’ll remember my review of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in which I sang Becky Albertalli’s praises like Julie Andrews on the hill in Austria. So, here we are again, but this time with a spin-off of SVTHSA. Excited? Let’s dive right in!
Leah on the Offbeat is a young adults novel set in the same universe as Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Leah on the Offbeat picks up about a year after the latter, following the characters into their final year of high school. But this time around, things are told from the perspective of Leah Burke, Simon’s BFF. The majority of the novel deals with Leah’s sexuality and how this affects both her school and personal life.
As much as I loved SVTHSA, I wanted to love this book. I really, truly went into this book with a feeling that I’d love it. But I just couldn’t bring myself to.
In SVTHSA, we didn’t really get much of an in-depth, close look at the personalities of the secondary characters because obvs it was all about Simon, his sexuality, and his super adorable quest for finding his one true love. Despite that, I liked Leah enough. I thought that she was a complex character and a take-no-shit kinda gal, which I madly respect. Unfortunately, when it came to this novel, I just didn’t like Leah Burke at. all.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely empathetic reader. I find the best in even the worst of characters sometimes. But I don’t know… Leah was just mean. She treated the majority of the other characters badly. Especially her mom - and for what reason? For being happy? For finding love? Her mom was really supportive and caring, despite the fact that she was preoccupied with the fact that they were struggling financially and that she had to work all the time to support her kid. But Leah still treated her badly and I can’t stand for that.
I can’t say much about the romantic storyline without giving a lot away… Though I can say that I wasn’t big on it. Not that I was against her having a romantic storyline, mind you. But one of the things I liked most about SVTHSA was how authentic it was, that I could really believe the characters could be real-life teenagers walking around Georgia, going to high school. I didn’t get that feeling from Leah on the Offbeat. It seemed like the relationship in this novel was staged and picture-perfect, like it was following every book cliche possible. It read like a fanfiction which is the complete opposite of what I’d been expected.
Looking back now, this might have been a better book for me if I hadn’t already read SVTHSA first. I found myself comparing the two a lot while reading and that made it a bit unenjoyable for me. HOWEVER, it is a great book for teens that are dealing with their own sexuality, as this book features a female bi-sexual main character!!!!! (is bi-sexual written like bi-sexual or is it written like bisexual??? Someone let me know pls!) It’s super important to have representation in novels and I majorly respect that about this book. I also wanna stress that the storyline of the book was really quite cute, I’m just bitter that it didn’t live up to my expectations.
Have you read both books? Did you like Leah on the Offbeat?
Goodreads Challenge: 18 out of 50