Thursday, May 3, 2018

Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Release Date - April 24,  2018
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  352 pages
My Rating - 5/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
If you're anything like me you read and loved Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda when it came out. You probably also wanted a sequel almost immediately upon finishing. When it was announced that we were getting a follow up in the form of a companion novel from Leah's point of view I was very excited. I loved Leah and was eager for her to have her own story. My expectations were high and Leah On The Offbeat shattered them. It's a feel good read that will leave you smiling as you hug your book. It's a fitting send off for these characters, and one that readers will want to return to again and again.

Fans of the first book will delight in the return of many beloved characters. We are given the opportunity to say goodbye to so many of our favourites. They have substantial roles within Leah's story in ways that charmed me completely. There is a ton of adorable Simon interactions in this book simply because he's one of Leah's best friends. I was surprised that even minor characters were given their due in this finale. It's a love letter to the fans of that first book in so many ways and I am confident it'll make readers emotional just for that perspective.

Readers fell in love with Simon while following him on his journey and they can expect to fall in love with Leah during hers. Being inside Leah's head is different than viewing her through Simon's perspective. She's snarky, loyal, fiercely protective of both herself and those she cares about, and complicated. She's imperfect and unsure at times and that makes her so interesting. I can see people labeling her with the 'unlikeable female character' moniker but I feel that's inaccurate and a disservice to her character. She's abrasive at times but that doesn't make her unworthy. She makes mistakes, but that just makes her feel all the more real as a character. I instantly loved her and the journey she navigates in her story.

Leah On The Offbeat, like Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, is a sort of coming out story. Leah knows who she is but just hasn't shared it with anyone outside of her family. Her bisexuality is addressed on the page in a really plot centric way. Leah is presented as noticing both male and female characters as attractive. There are two characters who could potentially be the love interest, even though it isn't what I would call a love triangle. It is, in my opinion, clear pretty early on who the true love interest is but it clearly showcases Leah's version of bisexuality in a way that suits her character. It's never up for debate, and is something Leah labels herself as throughout the book. It's very much presented as part of her character without being the only thing about her character.

The romance itself is pretty swoon worthy, but just as complicated as you would expect for a character like Leah. There are some delightful moments that exist between the two characters that are filled with flirty undercurrents and the potential for something more. It's a romance that fits who Leah's character is and that means it isn't without its bumps. Those bumps just make the pay off all the most rewarding. I also think the type of journey you should take with Leah, and not know too many spoilers going in.

Becky Albertalli once again crafts a story that is filled with humour, heart, and a swoony romance that is just charming as its predecessor. It'll have fans excited for whatever Becky Albertalli writes next even as they bid farewell to these beloved characters. It hits both the cozy notes of familiarity for those invested in these characters, but also allows Leah's story to be something all its own. 

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