Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

aka I think I’m in love


 

 

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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.

Released: April 24, 2018.


 

There shall be no Blue spoilers in this one…

 

 

The characters

 

“I hate when assholes have talent.”

 

(The) Leah Catherine Burke

 

Oh, my heart. I have found myself on the page!!!

 

Leah is a publicly strong individual whose internal demons sometimes gets the better of her, and you know what? That’s okay. That’s perfectly normal, because everyone has their demons, and we all deal with them in different ways. But. BUT. She’s also abrasive when she gets in her head, so you either tolerate her or you don’t, so she doesn’t have many strong friendships. So don’t expect too many epic gossip sessions with her girls, because this very imperfect, relatable character doesn’t do soft and mushy.

 

Leah trying on prom dresses breaks me, leaves me raw because I can relate. I never used to feel good trying on clothes, they need seem to fit me right, so to see her find one that she loves and have her mom shit on it, and for it to cost so much on top of that…God. I quite literally cried reading this scene.

 

How Leah shuts down/downplays what she’s feeling? I. Am. That.

 

 

“I feel knocked down . I feel demoted.

 

Simon and Blue

 

Still the greatest OTP I’ve read about in a while and I want another book of their love. Please, Becky. Please???

Simon and Blue check for Leah in a way that none of her other friends do, and it’s sweet and wonderful to witness. My unproblematic faves need protecting at all costs.

 

 

“I dare you to kiss me.”

Morgan and Anna

Remember those two from T.H.U.G (Chris and Hailey) who represented the two types of white people?  Well, here they are again. However, Morgan realized the error of her ways, unlike Hailey. so good for her, I guess. She’s still trash though because an angry tongue speaks the truth and that truth was racist as all hell.

 

Abby

I’m glad that I got to see this side of her, which we didn’t get in Simon. I didn’t expect it, but I didn’t hate it either. Go on then Abby!

 

The plot

 

‘No one ever warns the baby.’

 

There are things in this book that you just see coming from a mile away and normally I would be annoyed by this but this isn’t a mystery or a thriller or suspense so I didn’t feel robbed of anything. You saw the prom scene, you saw Leah’s reaction to having a crush coming, but you didn’t necessarily see that the crush was reciprocal.

 

Aside from Leah’s internal battle against her feelings, and the usual high school senior angst, there’s nothing else to this book. It’s not calm, but its mundanity was a welcome change. There was no scheming, no bullying, just teens trying to enjoy their last few weeks together.

 

The plot is simple and easy to follow so you don’t need to set aside too much brain power after a taxing day. You can pick it up and have a good chuckle (or cry depending) and escape reality for a little while.

 

My thoughts

 

‘She makes me want to shove my hand into my chest and rip my own heart out.’

 

This isn’t a cute story that leaves you feeling sugar cubes coursing through your veins, no dancing sugar plum fairies. This one hurts just as much as it gives you something to feel good about. Leah’s pain becomes your pain, but her triumphs? Oh, they were much more brilliant after all of her hurt. Seeing her finally happy, with herself and with her love life, was worth the moments of self-loathing and doubt.

 

Yes, the prom was cliched but that was the point. Even Leah points out how cliched it is. But that’s what made it cute, the fact that they went through with it anyway. Let them be kids one last time.

 

I also want to address the complaints about Leah’s character. Honestly, this Leah was more likable, understandable to me than the Simon ‘Leah’. I wasn’t fond of her in Simon. I found her selfish and cold and I couldn’t connect with her. But this Leah? I feel seen with this Leah. I saw this Leah’s pain and claimed her as my own.

 

But you know what else this book showed me? That I am just as much a Simon as I am a Leah. But how can I be so Leah and Simon at the same time?! OMG Becky just sees me. I feel seen.

 

I think it’s worth a try, I really do.

 

 


TL;DR: This one hurts you, but as with all things Albertalli, the sweet moments leave you flying high. Read this if you don’t mind a main character that isn’t all the way likable. Also, read Simon Vs if you haven’t already.

 

 

 

Goodreads: 4.26

BN: 4.7

Amazon: 4.6

My rating: 5 MUST HAVE MORE stars.

 

 

 

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