I wasn’t sure I wanted to read Leah on the Offbeat, the Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda sequel. I wasn’t in love with the first book (after really loving the film), so I didn’t know how a different book would change my perception of the world Becky Albertalli created. I really liked the world and the friend group she created, and I was curious about how a Leah-centered novel would work. I did find the representation of Leah in the book to be a bit anemic, so I was game to try the book. Plus, my husband blazed through it in about a day and begged me to read it, so that we could discuss it together. As it turns out, I have PLENTY to say.
Leah Burke is a proud member of a band, a senior in high school, queen of sarcasm, and Simon Spier’s best friend. She’s also proudly bisexual, though she’s not out to anyone, not even Simon. She also finds herself in a romantic conundrum within her friend group, and that’s when she wonders if she can overcome her natural tendencies and fight for herself.
I’m going to be frank here: I did not enjoy this book at all. I’m really glad that Albertalli is bringing LGBT+ characters to the forefront, but so much of this book depended on the complete unmaking of the previous one so as to ruin a great deal about what made the last book enjoyable. Further, the “chasing a straight girl” plot has been done before, and the resolution was not convincing (like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe before it). Finally, there was SO MUCH DRAMA and manic pixie dream girl realness, and that’s not my jam at all. I found Leah to be unpleasant and prickly a great deal of the novel, and I just don’t like cynicism for its own sake. This is obviously a personal taste matter, and my taste does not run that way, especially in YA novels. Your own mileage may vary, of course.
Cross-posted to my blog.