After reading Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, I was both content and gutted because I loved it but also it was over! Me and Sarah both decided to take Leah On The Offbeat to Amsterdam on our trip away and it was the best decision! It’s a fun read and it was so lovely to be back into a familiar world full of characters I adore.I think the main thing I enjoyed about this book is the world of characters. Becky Albertalli is really brilliant at writing side characters who feel really well thought out. A lot of books have side characters with a very basic personality and they are pretty much only plot devices but something I love about her writing is how nuanced and different the relationships are between different friends.
Secondly, it deals with bisexual representation. I’m bisexual myself and it’s pretty rare to find a book/film/tv show that literally says the word ‘bisexual’. Of course, not labelling is fine too – there is no ‘right’ way to be queer. But for an identity which gets ignored or stereotyped, it’s just nice to read it. However, I have to say my opinion on the bisexual representation is a mixed bag. I think there are some aspects of it which are a bit of a problem. Leah’s character is the main reason for this.
I want to warn now that I can’t write this review without spoilers so beware past this point – there will be spoilers! There is a moment when Abby is trying to figure out her sexuality (something she reveals she has been struggling with for a long time and still is during the book) and she describes herself as being “a little bisexual” (or something along those lines). Leah then gets really angry with her because she can’t just be slightly bi, she needs to sort herself out and accept herself. I hated this view and to be honest it really made me dislike Leah.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Leah anyway and this book did put me off her more. She is a very judgemental character and although in many ways she tries to help her friends and sticks up for what is right, she’s really quite mean to Abby! At the end of the day, you cannot and should not force someone to identify a certain way. You certainly can’t make them feel comfortable about it – that’s something you really cannot force.
However, I got to see way more of my favourite character from these books – Abby Suso! I adore Abby with my whole heart and she is definitely one of my favourite characters of all time. She’s kind, funny, adorable and sunshine in human form. Seeing more of her in this book was so wonderful. We got to see a more in-depth and vulnerable side to her – especially the different relationships she has with different people in the group. I really enjoyed the little friendship moments between her and Bram! Also Simon and Abby are the cutest pals ever and I adore them!
I personally really enjoyed the storyline between her and Nick and the problems they went through. For me, I think it made a lot of sense and between Simon Vs. and Leah, we got to see a well-rounded view of a relationship which has highs and lows and in the end doesn’t work out and that’s okay and doesn’t have to be anybody’s fault – something which I appreciate as I don’t think it’s that common to see. Sometimes, things just don’t work. However, on the topic of relationships, I really don’t like that all of the friendship group ending up dating other people in the inner or outer circle of their group. I don’t think that came across as very genuinely realistic, especially as they were all going to college in very different areas.
I’m unsure how I feel about Abby and Leah ending up a couple. There were moments I was really rooting for them and thought they were adorable but there were also times when I think it would have been cool to have a new character for Leah to fall in love with, as well as having her original crush on Abby. Abby could still be bi just not romantically involved with Leah. Of course, this is all down to personal opinion!
Considering I wasn’t a fan of the main character, I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It’s an easy read and has adorably fun moments with a friendship group we already know and love. Despite some of the issues I’ve mentioned, I would recommend giving it a go and seeing what you think. I’m definitely glad I read it!
Have you read Leah? What did you think?