NOTE: This is spoiler free but there will be spoilers for Simon VS the Homosapiens Agena.
There’s a lot of pressure when you have high expectations for a book and you’re 90% sure that it’s going to be good. A pressure because a part of you knows you shouldn’t have such high expectations, no matter what the book is, but the other part of you simply can’t help it. That was the case for me with Leah on the Offbeat.
Earlier this year I re-read Simon VS the Homosapiens Agenda which is a favourite of mine and also the prequel to this book. Reading Leah on the Offbeat wasn’t something I planned because I didn’t own a copy at the time of finishing my re-read of Simon, however, while I was on holiday at the end of June I walked into a bookstore and right there on the shelf was one copy of Leah on the Offbeat. One copy? Of course, I had to buy it. It felt like a sign.
It was just that easy to get through as Simon, partly because I knew these characters (to some extent) but also because the structure and pacing of Leah on the Beat is really well done. There’s such an obvious push forward that nothing seems to drag but it never feels like the story is being rushed. Every time we move from one part of the story to another, it feels natural. There was never a point where I questioned why something was happening or how we got to that moment.
Honestly, if you’ve read Simon VS the Homosapiens Agenda and you loved Becky Albertali’s writing, then you’ll love this. It’s set in the same world (a little over a year after the events of Simon) and it does a great job of expanding that world while also keeping this story as its own thing. Now, you don’t necessarily have to read Simon to read this but it will spoil a lot of things for you that might ruin your read through of Simon if you decide to get it to later. (That’s why there’s a spoiler warning at the start of this review!)
I loved all the little moments about the other characters that continued on from the previous book. It was great to see Simon and Bram’s relationships and how that’s developed since we last saw them but it was even better because it didn’t take over and was simply a background thing. It was also nice to see a lot of Bram by himself because we didn’t really get that in Simon (we saw him as Blue in the emails and such but we never got to see Bram quite like we see him in Leah on the Offbeat). There are many other characters that we see and mentions of past events that make this book feel nostalgic but as I said before, none of it takes away from the fact that this story is about Leah and is its own thing.
Leah Burke was a character I immediately fell in love with in Simon. I wanted to know more about her straight away and this book certainly delivered. She’s everything she was in Simon and more! Leah is so unapologetically herself and it’s awe-inspiring. For the most part, Leah knows who she is and she isn’t afraid to be that person. It was so great to read about a character who might not want to tell everyone everything, but she’s content with at least admitting who she is to herself.
Leah on the Offbeat made me smile, laugh, even get a little teary-eyed on occasion, but for the most part, it was just a genuine pleasure to read. I will always be thankful for character’s like Leah and I can’t wait for more writing from Becky Albertalli.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / 5