Title: Leah on the Offbeat
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series Name: Creekwood #2
Genre: YA Diverse Contemporary
Publication Date: April 24th, 2018
Pages: 339 (Paperback)
Publishers: Penguin Random House UK
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
Okay, so I have read this and I have a lot of thoughts to share. I will be splitting this review into Spoiler Free & Spoilery! I will post both at the same time but you will need to read this one to understand the spoilery one. You can find the Spoilery review HERE!! This review also won’t be following my usual format, I will basically just be saying whatever I think of at the time.
I will try and use some quotes, but I will use the name BOB for all character names in said quote so as no spoilers.
Okay, so I didn’t particularly like this book. Originally I was thinking about setting this review up as ‘what I loved’ & ‘what I hated’ but honestly I didn’t enjoy much. I wouldn’t even say I ‘liked’ much, it was more things that I didn’t like and thinks that I didn’t absolutely hate.
However, what I did like was Simon & Blue. I am saying blue, so as not to spoil Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I did enjoy their relationship in the book. I’m not a romance person but they are cute. They add a little ray of sunshine to this not so great book.
Second I do like the range of diversity, even if I don’t like how the bisexual situation was handled (see that in my spoilery review). We had LGBT characters, POC, half Chinese, Jewish and more.
My main problem with the book is the MC, Leah. It’s been a while since reading Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda so I didn’t remember a tonne about Leah, so I can’t fully comment on whether she has changed as that seems to be a lot of peoples problem in this book. However, I can talk about some of the reasons I didn’t like her.
1. Firstly, the amount of inappropriate negative things that goes through her head is just beyond a joke. She judges nearly everyone that isn’t in her direct friend group & even some of them get judged actually. Let me give you a quote!
“I have a theory that BOB literally gets off on the sound of her own voice. I’m pretty sure she’s having tiny secret orgasms right before our eyes.”
Then there is how she thinks about her friends. She describes one friend as “embarrassingly hetero”. No girl, no. Unless someone actually straight out tells you at some point that ‘I am straight’ then don’t go around thinking shit like that! You got angry at other characters when they assumed hetero things about you?!?! How is that any different from what you just did?!
2. She leads people on for no better reason than half the time she forgets they exist and the other half it makes her feel nice to be wanted (see spoilery section for a quote). She also half arse attempts to tell the truth a couple times but changes her mind because it will be awkward. Of course, it is awkward, you are about to reject someone that you think has a crush on, it’s going to be weird. But you NEVER LEAD SOMEONE ON!! It is not fair on them at all and it is just so damn sad! Then she has the nerve to get up a different character later on for leading her on and sending weird signals!!! UHM HELLO!
3. Her every second thought contradicted the one before it. As you can probably see by reading my first two points here. She gets annoyed when people assume she is straight but she does the same thing because that person has a boyfriend. Uhmmm, bisexuals like both, so we can blend in pretty well with the straight people sometimes.. She leads someone on and then later has a go at another character because she thinks that character is doing the same thing. This happens more than just these two explains, but I could be here all night explaining each.
4. The way she treats her mother, Jessica, my god. She is rude, blatantly doesn’t care about her mum’s opinions on things & the way she acts about her mum’s boyfriend good lord. She can’t just accept that her Mum is happy and likes this guy, no he is just a douche because he has a fancy job and money and offers to help them out. Let me give you a quote that literally floored me. I had to pause and make sure I read it right because I was shocked.
“”Why do I love BOB?”
“I get the money thing, obviously.””
Do you think so little of your mother that she would be in a relationship with someone just for the money? It would be different if she was draining him of money and buying fancy stuff and holidaying and crap like that, then you might be able to breach that subject with her. But no your mother still works her ass off to barely make ends meet, even with a rich boyfriend! So that makes no damn sense! And my god if I said that to my Mum I would get a whack around the ears. Apparently, respect for parents has gone out the window. I always complain that parents are absent in most YA but this bitch has a really nice caring and kinda fun Mum and she treats her like crap!!
5. THE LYING!!! You literally lied to someone that you went to a soccer game when someone asks you to come to the game and watch them. You felt like shit, I get it but instead of straight out lying you could have just told him you weren’t feeling up to it because that is the TRUTH! Good lord she lies sooo damn much it is not funny and in her head, she is always thinking ‘oh I should have told the truth, too late now.’ No girl you turn your arse around and march back over that and tell the truth! They are your friends and even best friends! Come on!
6. Definite anger management problems. Literally, someone would do something or say something that Leah didn’t like and she would throw a tantrum and storm off. Most of the time the thing that set her off was something that meant absolutely nothing (Again see the spoilery section for explanation and quotes).
Now let’s talk about the writing a little.
1. Firstly we have the romance, I won’t say who, but I will say that it is plainly obviously about 60 pages in who the love interest is going to be. I also kinda felt like at the start the interest felt fake. It felt like this for a couple reasons, one for how the author wrote their interactions and how Leah reacted to those interactions. She could barely function whenever the love interest talked to her, but she had NO IDEA that she liked this person even a little apparently. The other reason was that it was just over the top. Leah’s every thought is the love interest and every single time she is described as perfect but confusing. It was like the author was just trying to emphasise that this is the person Leah has a crush on, just in case you missed the first 50 hints. It just felt so forced and fake. It felt a little more realistic towards the very end though and that is where the story just turned into a typical soppy YA love story.
2. Next, we have the references to pop culture. Usually, I don’t mind a couple, but in this book, it felt like these references were just being thrown in to be relatable. They were all over the place really.
3. How many times a page can one person use ‘God’ as an exclamation?!?! I don’t know, but you will find out in this book.
4. If Leah doesn’t say once a chapter that she ‘doesn’t understand’ the love interesting and that they are confusing, she says it like 20 fucking times a chapter!
I literally wrote in the thoughts part of Bookly while reading this “If she says she doesn’t understand BOB one more time I will throw this book across the creek on my walk this arvo”
Uhmm what plot??? It is basically none existent. This is more pure romance than Becky’s other books. Like Simon had the blackmail situation & Upside there is a bit going on, there is the romance, the anxiety, the stuff with her and her sister, there is their Mum’s wedding & so much going on. But in Leah there it is literally just a typical high school romance and prom. The only difference from half the prom type movies & books is that there are gay people involved.
Also what little plot there was present was very predictable. I knew basically the whole plot after the first 1/3 of the book and I was pretty spot on. This is why I don’t read contemporary! Real life is too damn predictable. It’s not like in fantasy where you think you have everything figured out and then the love interest turns into a bloody werewolf or something! I need unpredictability!!
Besides Leah, Simon & Blue the other characters kinda felt a bit weird or flat to me. There was one character who completely went off the rails after a breakup but it was never mentioned how he sorted that out in the end and whether he calmed down as the story cut off before any chance of that happening. There was also a racist side character that just kinda felt like it was thrown in there just for a plot point. It didn’t actually add anything to the book except an argument & that a POC has to deal with comments like that often.
Well, I think that is all. If you want spoilery thoughts as well go HERE!
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT?!
IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHARE SPOILERS please do that in the spoilery post.
Purchase any of the books mentioned from Book Depository! World Wide Free Shipping.