Known as the second installment in the critically acclaimed “Simon-verse” of Becky Albertalli, Leah on the Offbeat can easily be read as a standalone. A standalone that focuses on the stigma of female bisexuality, and the struggles that come with coming out and femininity.
Coming out is personal, the same way identity and sexuality is. Even with a completely accepting environment around you it can still be scary and confusing. Leah on the Offbeat captures that internal struggle perfectly, while combining it with the normal dose of teen angst. The fact that it is easily relatable to women in the lgbt+ community is what makes this book so great, why it is staying on my bookshelves, and it only becomes better as it can easily be read without reading its predecessor.
Leah on the Offbeat could easily be a light, fluffy book. While reading it it might seem as if it never really touches upon heavy subjects where it in reality does quite frequently. Coming out, the concept of forgiveness, as well as positive body image, Leah on the Offbeat melts these subjects together in a very humanlike main character. Yes she has flaws, but don’t we all? This book focuses on the flaws that makes a human human, and also focuses on how to fight stigma’s as a woman in a world that can be very condescending about bisexuality and female homosexuality. It is a fluffy battle cry, but that is sometimes all that a young reader needs to feel a little bit less alone and more courageous in a struggle with herself.
Teen angst, romantic plots, prom, how deep into YA can you get? I’m not always a huge fan of YA and a book that is easily relatable on multiple levels is not always easy to find, but this book managed to catch me off guard. This book has been critized by fans from the first book in the Simon-verse for having plotholes and weak plottwists, one of them being Leah not coming out even though her best friend is openly gay. I did not find myself in this critique, as someone who had to come out in a loving and accepting environment myself I know how scary it can be to do so. It feels like you are burning all bridges behind you, and as if you have to be someone totally new.
Leah on the Offbeat shows this struggle perfectly, while combining it with the concept of dating and having to explore your own thoughts and feelings. A great recommendation to everyone who wants to understand the struggles of a bisexual person, or a girl about to come out of the closet. And to everyone who is in that situation themselves as well.
Leah on the Offbeat
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat- but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. The only child of a single mum, and her life is less privileged than her friends. Her mum knows she’s bisexual, but Leah hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends. Not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. Prom and college are on the horizon, and tensions are running high. Can Leah still strike the right note, when the people she loves are fighting? And how can she cope knowing that she might love one of her friends more than she ever intended?
Highly recommended for everyone who wants to know how much of a struggle coming out can be. Even with accepting surroundings, even when you have solidified your own identity already, Leah on the Offbeat shows exactly what an emotional rollercoaster emotions, sexuality and closing chapters in life can be. And yes, it can easily be read without ever opening its highly acclaimed predecessor.
Becky Albertalli. Leah on the Offbeat / Penguin / 9780241331057