Today I am going to be reviewing one of my favourite contemporary books of all time: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli! I read Simon vs the Homosapien’s agenda earlier this year in preparation for the release of the film that I really wanted to see (I still actually haven’t seen it though funnily enough; I just never got around to it – whoops!) and I fell in love! I loved everything about Simon and his world, so naturally, when I found out they were releasing a companion novel to one of my new favourite books I went straight to the bookstore and bought it there and then. I actually then got caught up in my re-read of Harry Potter and was then on a big fantasy kick so it took me a few months to read it, but I finally did and I adored it just as much as I enjoyed Simon!
This is going to be a spoiler-free review as long as you have read Simon. If you haven’t then first of all what are you doing? and second of all this will have some spoilers in it, so I suggest you don’t read on if you haven’t read Simon yet. It will be completely spoiler-free for Leah though, so yay! I am just going to warn you now that there will be swearing in this post because I just have so many feelings that can only be expressed by saying the work ‘fuck’, so I apologize if that offends you. I will go back to the regularly scheduled, family friendly programming after I have told you all about this book. Now that I have got all that out of the way, let’s get into the review…
“I swear people can’t wrap their minds around the concept of a fat girl that doesn’t diet. Is it that hard to believe I might actually like my body?”
I’m not going to be splitting this review up into the usual sections that I do simply because I just have too many thoughts and feelings and I couldn’t possibly organise them any more than I already have, so I am just going to talk about some of the points I really loved about the book and move on from one to the other starting with the fat and body positivity that this book contained! The quote you can see above was in chapter 4 (I think), so right off the bat Leah is having non of societies bull-shit and I LOVE it! Leah is fat. It is a fact and it was nothing more than that. She loves her body just the way it is and doesn’t let anyone tell her how to feel about it or that she should change it. In a lot of books that discuss or involve overweight characters, the character is most often learning to love herself, but Leah already does and I just really loved that about her.
This book was diverse as fuck! There were black characters, Jewish characters, bisexual characters, gay characters, gender neutral characters and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Diversity is amazing to see in books and I am so glad that we are starting to see more of it now. It really added to the story and added a way more realistic and relatable feel to the whole book. It also just made me really happy to think that more people world wide might be able to relate to the book because of all the representation and I know how important it is, so that made me really happy. I don’t think anything else really needs to be said. It was so diverse. I loved it! It was great! Shall we move on? Yes? Okay!
Something I really, really loved in this book was when Leah called out one of her friends’ racist comments. I won’t tell you who said it or what it was about for the sake of keeping this review spoiler free, but I felt that it was really important to include. What I also loved is not only did Leah call it out, but she then held onto it and didn’t just take ‘oh I didn’t mean it’ or ‘I was just upset’ as an excuse. She held it to the standard it needed to be held to and didn’t let it go until the person had properly apologised and learnt from the mistake after receiving the appropriate backlash. It wasn’t something that was really essential to the story, but I felt it was a very important addition that brought to light some of the smaller racist issues that happen in our society that then build into bigger things and help fuel the hate and keep that fire alive. There was a lot of talk about the pressure that Abbi faces as a young black woman throughout the book as well, which I really appreciated because I certainly feel like I learnt a lot and I think others could as well. It was again just said like a fact and so plainly highlighted the issue without getting complicated. It was just ‘this is an issue and that’s it’. There was no space left to deny it and I really loved that.
“It doesn’t even matter if I like my body, because there’s always someone there to remind me I shouldn’t. “Your’e not fat. Your’e amazing.” because fat is the opposite of amazing.”
Something else that I felt was really amazing about this book was that it put a big emphasis on the fact that it is okay to care about things like prom. It is almost like a trap these days because if you care then your trying to hard, but if you don’t then your not trying enough and everyone gets so caught up in trying to fit in that we forget just how ridiculous these things are. The big event that the book was leading up to was prom at the end of the year and the old gang going different ways to their separate colleges and so throughout the book it kept coming back to prom and the underlying message that I took away was that it is okay to care.
This is a very quick break for me to tell you that I fucking love Simon and Bram and they are literally the most goals couple to ever fricking exist. I will never shut up about them and that promposal was the best thing I have EVER read! Okay. Thank you for listening. Now back to the review…
The final thing I wanted to talk about was the emphasis on college, adulthood and change. Throughout the book we have the looming eventuality that they are all going to separate out and go to different colleges and that is obviously very difficult and hard on them all. At the end of the book though we get to see a brief email exchange that shows that everything did work out fine in the end and they are all still friends despite the fact that things are changing. A lot of the things they were worried about aren’t a problem and I think that was really important to see. As someone who is about to enter my last year of secondary school before heading to college myself I have a lot of the same concerns that Leah did and reading this made me feel a whole lot calmer about it all.
That is pretty much everything I wanted to talk about, so thank you all for sticking around until the end and listening to me rant. As you can probably guess I loved this book! I gave it 4.75/5 stars and I only dropped a quarter of a star because the first 6/7 chapters were a bit slow going with no real direction about what was going to happen, but everything after that was phenomenal – as you can probably tell if you made it this far. I loved getting to see some of my favourite characters again, see where they are now, how the relationships are going and where they’re going next! It was everything I wanted in a companion/sequel – I couldn’t be more pleased with it! I hope this has inspired everyone who hasn’t read Leah on the Offbeat yet to go and read it and if you have read it then tell me what you thought of it!
Goodbye for now!
Over and Out