Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
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.
I love all of Becky’s books and this was no exception.
Leah is such a “real” character to me. She has super low self esteem, she isn’t rich like her friends, she isn’t thin, and she is very insecure. It makes it easy to relate to someone like that in a book.
This book takes place a year after Simon. Bram and Simon are still dating. So are Abby and Nick. But it’s the end of senior year and things are starting to change. The kids are looking at colleges and prom is coming up. Leah gets asked by a guy friend, Garrett, and agrees to go with him. But she really isn’t interested in dating him. Leah is bisexual and has very strong feelings for one particular girl that she can’t have.
I loved the relationship with Leah and her mom. Becky always writes really cool parents and I love that. Leah’s mom is dating and her dad is absent. She had Leah when she was a teenager, so she struggles to really relate to any of Leah’s friends parents. I was like that with my daughter, too. When she started school, I realized that most of the parents were ten years older than me and I was the outcast. So I totally got Leah’s mom. It was so obvious that she loved her daughter more than anything. They were friends, but she still had some rules, too.
It was nice to have a continuing Creekwood story. I was happy to read how things were with Simon and Bram. They are adorable. There were some other friends, mostly the girls from Leah’s band and Garrett. Garrett was annoying at times, but fun and goofy, too. I loved his mistake with the prom reservations. Leah did have an issue with one friend who said something racist. I’m hoping people read that and realize they need to think before they speak. You can’t blame others for things that happen to you and this girl was so wrong.
I liked Abby and Leah’s roadtrip. Also, prom was really cute. I found myself laughing out loud at Leah a lot throughout the book. She was awkward, but super honest about everything.
” I used to think boners literally pointed in the direction of the person you’re attracted to, like a compass. That would be helpful. Mortifying as fuck, but at least it would clarify things.”
While Leah was self conscious about her body, she also accepted her body. But we did see different times throughout the book where she struggled.
“The only thing worse than trying on dresses is hearing a bunch of skinny girls trying on dresses next door. Listening to them pick at themselves. It’s like it doesn’t even matter if I like my body, because there’s always someone there to remind me I shouldn’t.
You’re not fat. You look amazing.
Because fat is the opposite of amazing. Got it. Thanks, Jenna’s friend.”
I liked everything about this book and will continue buying everything Becky writes. I gave this one 5 stars.
Have you read Leah on the Offbeat? How about Simon or Upside? What did you think of any of them?