Friday, May 4, 2018

Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Title: Leah on the Offbeat
Series: Creekwood #2
Written by: Becky Albertalli
Published: April 24, 2018 by Balzar + Bray (HarperCollins)

(Amazon / 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.

I loved Becky's first two books so I was really excited for her next one. Not to mention it is a sequel to Simon Vs with Leah as the protagonist. And while I enjoyed catching back up with these characters and seeing Leah get her own love story, I didn't like it as much as the other two books.

One of the things that I did enjoy about this book was the voice. With three different books, Becky has managed to create three different voices. You can hear Leah while you are reading this book. She's sometimes snarky, sometimes aggressive, and sometimes vulnerable or insecure. In this book you get to see the Leah you fell in love with in Simon Vs. but in her own words. And I loved being in Leah's head. There were a lot of times where I related to her so much throughout the book, and honestly those were problem the moments where she was her weakest. Because the thing about Leah is, she's not always very nice. But I loved that Becky gave her room to be vulnerable and unlikable. Leah was a great character with a distinct and engaging voice.

It's a good thing that Leah was such a good character because so much of the plot of this book hinged on Leah. This is a coming-of-age story which is something that Becky does so well. So much of this book was about Leah figuring out who she is, who she wants to be, and how she expresses that to the world. If you asked Leah though she'd probably tell you she knew exactly who she is at the start of this book, but she still had some tremendous development. I loved seeing Leah grow and develop in this book.

But the thing I didn't love was the romance. Now don't get me wrong, I did really enjoy a bisexual character. I think this may have been my first book with an out bisexual character, which in and of itself is cool and also sort of embarrassing (note to self: read more books with bi MCs). The thing is, however, there really was no contest when it comes to Leah's relationships. This wasn't really a love triangle, but there were elements of that. Instead it was one of those books where the character clearly favors one person over the other. Which would have been fine, if I didn't feel like she was leading the other person on. But I should take my adult goggles off and probably realize that this a realistic teen relationship. I just didn't like it as much as I would have liked.

But of course the best part of this book was the secondary characters. Being that this is a book that takes place in the same location as Simon Vs and about the same characters we got to check back in with our favorites from that book. Besides Leah we also get see Simon and Bram, who are as adorable as ever, Nick who is having a rough go in this book, and Abby who is still fun and sweet. Plus we get more from Garrett which I really liked as well as Morgan and Anna who I liked learning more about even though they were kind of jerks sometimes. But I think the secondary character I liked the most was Leah's mom. She and her mom had such an engaging relationship. It was far from perfect but you could tell they loved one another which made it all the more realistic.

I sincerely hope that this isn't the end from the Creekwood gang. I loved reading Leah's story and hearing more from everyone who we fell in love with in the original book. But I'm not ready to say goodbye. I'm personally hoping for a Nora book. We got a little bit of Nora here but I want more. Maybe in a year or two.

All in all this was a good read. It's a good contemporary coming-of-age story that handles some serious issues gracefully and has fantastic characters. I just wish I had enjoyed the romance a little bit more.

I give Leah on the Offbeat 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you like Becky and her writing, definitely check this book out. If you are looking for a swoony romance with a bisexual character this may not be the right book, but who am I to say. My romancephobic heart wasn't won over but then again, I'm hard to please.

Have you read Leah on the Offbeat? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

1 comment:

  1. I’m glad you mostly liked it! I’m not a romance fan, but I loved Simon Vs, so I’m excited to read Leah’s story. Great review!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!