Leah on the Offbeat, by L. M. Montgomery
Publish Date: April 24, 2018
Published by: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
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.
After reading and loving both Simon vs. and The Upside of Unrequited, I knew without a doubt that I had to read the latest book by Becky Albertalli. And from the start I was swept into the story. She gives her characters such clear voices – they are so realistic and down-to-earth that it is easy to relate to them in many ways.
For me, I thought I was going to love Leah a lot, but it turns out I wasn’t always such a fan of hers. She could be a little too bitter and stubborn for me at times, so I never really felt as much of a connection with her as I would have hoped. Don’t get me wrong, she still made me laugh out loud and I definitely felt on point with her at some moments in the story, but I just felt like I wasn’t as big of a fan of hers as I thought I was going to be.
I thought the romance was okay – I felt like there was so much that had already happened (the blossoming friendship between Leah and Abby in junior year for example) that made the chemistry not as apparent to me on the page. I don’t know – I think most of their interactions together in the book revolved around friendship and other relationship issues and coming out and the consequences of acting on their feelings for each other that the romance itself kind of got lost a little in the shuffle. Maybe it’s just me, though.
It took me longer to get through this book because I was reading in bits and pieces at work during my downtime, until finally I was able to buy it when I could afford to. As a result, there were several times when I had already forgotten minor details that had already happened, or tidbits about certain characters that had been mentioned. I don’t know if this also affected my overall opinion of Leah and the romance with Abby, but I do think it may have been some factor.
I will say I absolutely love how much of the friendships Leah has played strong roles in the story. I hate it when books become about just the romance and everyone else is basically forgotten, but in this book there was an excellent balance and it was so fun to see Leah and Simon and all of her friends interacting and dealing with other issues involved with growing up and coming of age.
Overall, it was a fun read, but not my favorite of Becky’s books. I was definitely happy with the bisexual representation and all that, but it just didn’t make me as happy as the other two books did. And I guess that’s what made me love them a little more.