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.
What I Liked
Love Leah’s character. She is tough on the outside and doesn’t like to show her emotions, but she is soft on the inside. She really cares for her friends, such as Simon and Abby. Leah has a sense of justice and stands for what she believes in. She also values perfection. She is a creative spirit who loves drumming and drawing, though she doesn’t recognize how good she is at either.
Love the relationship between Leah and her mother. Leah’s mother is young, single and struggling to make ends meet. This influences Leah to make frugal choices. We can tell how much Leah’s mom loves Leah. I love the dialogue between mother and daughter which flow so well.
Love the cameos from Becky Albertalli’s previous books. We spend a lot of time with Simon and Blue (who are so, so cute) and even hear a bit about Molly and Cassie (from The Upside of Unrequited).
Love the writing because of how simple it is. It is light and humorous, and so easy and addictive to read.
What I Didn’t Like
At times it is hard to understand the motivations and actions of Leah’s love interest.
Spoilery bits below (highlight to reveal):
At some points in the story I am annoyed by how indecisive Abby is, and sometimes she strikes me as cruel. Also, I am a bit confused about the timeline as to when Abby began to like Leah vs. Nick. Did she ever like Nick at all? For these reasons I don’t fully get the chemistry between Leah and Abby, which makes it hard to stay engaged towards the end of the book.
The plot feels a bit unfocused in the beginning. For the first third of the book, I had no idea where the story is going. However, the book is so easy to get into because of the writing and Leah’s voice, so this wasn’t a big deal for me.
The Bottom Line: 3/5 stars
Whether or not you have read Simon Vs the Homosapiens Agenda, Leah on the Offbeat is a fun and adorable read.
Did you read Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda or watch the Love Simon movie? Have you read / are you planning to read this sequel?
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