Title: Leah on the Offbeat
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series: Creekwood #2
Publisher: HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: 24th April 2018
I went to the What If It’s Us event with Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera a while ago and to get myself in the mood I read Leah on the Offbeat, by Albertalli, to get myself into the mood and remind myself what her books were like.
Leah on the Offbeat is the second book written in the Simonverse universe, with Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda being the first.
The book is set around one year after the end of Simon vs so the characters have developed a lot in that time however there are many things that has remained the same as well. They’re all in their senior year as well so there’s talk about which college they’re going to go to and where they get into.
One of the first things that struck me was how weird it felt to read about characters I knew and loved from the first book written in a different perspective. There were also characters, that had previously been more minor, now being more prevalent in relation to how significant they are in Leah’s life.
Similar to Simon vs, at the beginning of the book Leah is in the closet, but luckily there’s no more blackmail this time around. However just like Simon she struggles with coming out, but for different reasons as she knows people (or at least the ones she cares about) will be accepting, due to their reaction to Simon and Bram. Unlike Simon, at the start of the book she’s already told her mum who accepts her sexuality.
A difference between Leah and Simon is that Leah’s bi, and is a lot more confused about her sexuality which contrasted which how sure Simon was of him being gay. This comes across in Leah never being sure of who she likes, towards both boys and girls.
The two of them are also different in terms of their family situation. Whilst Simon comes from one of those seemingly perfect chocolate box families, Leah does not and she’s very aware of that. She only lives with her mum, who had her whilst she was still in high school herself and could probably be considered a “cool mom”. In addition, they’re not in the more stable of financial situations; Leah still takes the bus as she can’t afford a car and she has to be actively aware of how she spends her money instead of simply doing as she pleases. With all of the university talk, it’s not as much of which one is she going to try to aim for rather than which ones can she afford in state.
Overall I think these difference make the book more interesting, as we get to see more of Simon and Bram’s adorable relationship but just no longer in he same perspective. We get to see how that whilst Leah’s happy for them she’s envies what they have and what her life is like being from an opposing family situation and class. The fact that Leah and Simon are such good friends makes these differences stand out but also gives you perspective when looking on each of their viewpoints and provides a more balanced look as a whole.
One thing that connects the two books and rounds them off nicely together is their endings. Anyone who has read Simon vs will fondly remember the emails that Simon and Bram (or rather Jaques and Blue) sent one another which were just so cute. LOTO ends in a similar fashion, with a few emails being sent between the friends discussing what they’ve done so far at uni and it definitely leaves the novel on a nice note, one that feels like a new beginning as much as an ending, as, of course, life doesn’t end after high school.
Whilst I did like Leah on the Offbeat, I definitely prefer Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda as I think the whole mystery of who Blue was added a slight suspense which I loved a lot. I also read it a few years back (2016 maybe?) and so the writing style was more of what I was used to, whereas now I read more books out of YA and therefore the style seems a tad more simple(? If that’s the right phrasing to use) which doesn’t detract from the story-line but does decrease my appreciation for the book as a whole.
Have any of you read Leah on the Offbeat? If so, what did you think about it and how did you think it compared to Simon vs?
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