“I swear, people can’t wrap their minds around the concept of a fat girl who doesn’t diet. Is it that hard to believe I might actually like my body?” - Becky Albertalli, Leah on the Offbeat
Greetings Bibliophiles, if you’re anything like me, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda probably left you gasping for more. If so, fear not, Becky Albertalli has got you covered in Leah on the Offbeat. This book was published in 2018 as a direct sequel to the hugely popular 2015 hit.
This time round, Simon Spiers best friend Leah Burke takes center stage. We journey with Leah as she struggles with relatable coming of age issues, such as, body image, sexuality, identity, dating, prom, graduation and preparing for college. Leah has a lot of insecurities, but she’s also witty, tough and deliciously sardonic. Her narration is vastly different to that of Simon Spier, which gives a fresh perspective to this dynamic group of young friends. All the old gang are back, Simon, Bram, Abby, Nick and even Martin. This serves as the next (and hopefully not the last) chapter in their lives, and it is every bit as heartfelt and juicy as the first.
Leah is the only child of a young, single mother. She’s not quite as privileged as many of her peers. She has many talents, but can’t help homing in on her flaws. This is especially true when it comes to her art work. She loves to draw, and even though she’s great at it, she’ll always find a fault in her work. The one thing she allows herself to take full pride in, is her drumming. Behind a drum kit, she’s the queen of rhythm and right on beat, but in real life, she’s falling flat. The inevitable wave of change which comes with senior year, threatens to upset the balance and test all the relationships within her tight-knit group.
As if this wasn’t enough for Leah to deal with, she’s also harbouring a secret. She’s Bisexual. She hasn’t told any of her friends, not even her out-and-proud bestie, Simon. And, just to add further fuel to the fire, she realises she may be falling in love with one of her friends. With everything that’s thrown Leah’s way throughout the course of the story, the character could have easily fallen into the pit of being whiny or irritating. Instead, she faces adversity with a wry sense of humour, which really drives the story.
I’ll admit, I bought the book, because I wanted to know what happened next with Simon and Bram. However, it wasn’t long before I fell in love with Leah. Beneath her jokes and tough exterior, is a vulnerable, courageous, and lovable character. She is funny, intelligent, relatable and a champion for body positivity. Not to worry though, every member of the group is back. Each character from the original novel is expanded upon with their own unique story arc, which all interlock in a very satisfying way. I didn’t expect to be so moved by the story’s conclusion. It builds to such a beautiful climax, which is every bit as relevant and poignant as it’s predecessor. The dialogue is razor sharp and I laughed out loud on many occasions, and also shed a little tear of joy on one.
That’s about all I want to give away, if you loved Simon, grab a copy, you won’t regret it.
I also have an exciting new project which i'll be announcing very shortly. All i can say, is that it involves my absolute favorite fandom, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Until then, may your days be filled with peace, love and poetry,
“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.” – Leah Burke