Leah on the Offbeat

Book review by
Rachel Sarah, Common Sense Media
Leah on the Offbeat Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Heartfelt sequel of bisexual teen trying to come out.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 11 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows some basics about the drama and emotions around getting into college. Some information about bisexuality and LGBTQA+ youth culture, specifically the journey of coming out.

Positive Messages

Find the courage to be yourself. Do what makes you happy, even if you're feeling insecure. Trust yourself, and do your best to be honest with your friends. Positive depictions of bisexual and gay characters. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Leah is a self-aware high school senior who's comfortable in her overweight body: "I swear, people can't wrap their minds around the concept of a fat girl who doesn't diet. Is it that hard to believe I might actually like my body?" Her friends Simon and Bram are a sweet, loving model of a teen relationship. Positive depictions of bisexual and gay characters. 


Mentions of sexuality: "Of course I told my mom I'm bisexual, even though none of my friends know." But no actual sex. Sweet kissing scene.


Teens swear frequently; strong language and insults include "s--t" and its variations, as well as "f--k," "a--hole," "bitch," and "d--k."


Brands are mentioned within the context of a suburban high school setting, including college names (Tufts, BU, Wesleyan, NYU, Haverford, Swarthmore, Columbia), as well as Harry Potter, Waffle House, Nordstrom, FaceTime, Celebrity Rehab TV show, and musicians like Bon Jovi, Journey, and Ed Sheeran.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking, mostly by "Sad Drunk Nick."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Leah on the Offbeat is the second novel in the Creekwood series; it follows Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (which was made into the movie Love, Simon). Coming out as bisexual is one of the central themes, but high school seniors also wrestle with emotional issues such as being who you are with your friends, graduating, and going off to college. There's lots of discussion about sexuality, but no actual sex scenes. Characters kiss and hold hands, and there are positive representations of gay and bisexual characters, including teens in loving relationships. Main character Leah goes to a party where there's underage drinking. Expect liberal use of "f--k," "s--t," and their variations. The book's messages are about finding the courage to be yourself and doing what makes you happy, even if you're feeling insecure.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 14 years old Written byice August 16, 2018


Wow. I don't even know where to start.

As someone who has struggled with their sexuality in the past, this book was amazing. It showed struggle of someone... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bymurdojack December 28, 2019

Amazing, but Mature

Sex: 4/5
Strong depictions of making out.
Use of word ‘orgasm’
Talk about sex frequently.

Language: 4/5
Multiple uses of ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and ‘dick’
Less comm... Continue reading

What's the story?

Leah Burke, a talented artist and drummer who's outspoken about being body-positive, isn't like her friends at her high school in Atlanta. She's the only child of a single mom and doesn't live with the same privilege that her friends do. Leah has been open with her mom about being bisexual, but she has yet to tell her friends. As LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT moves along, Leah grapples with her friendships, senior year anxiety, and first love. With prom and college around the corner, high school feels more intense every week. Should she go after what she wants -- in both love and in art -- or settle for always feeling slightly offbeat?

Is it any good?

Leah isn't always an easy character to like in this heartfelt sequel to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Leah is Simon's best friend). She can be moody and downright angry with both her mother and her friends. For example, when Leah's mom surprises her with a new purchase, Leah responds with a FaceTime call to her mom at work, and the first thing Leah says is, "What the hell is this?"

In contrast to Becky Albertalli’s previous, Morris Award-winning Simon, Leah on the Offbeat moves at a slower pace, and sometimes the plot feels disconnected. But in Leah's defense, it's refreshing to see a frank, body-positive teen character who doesn't hold back from saying what she thinks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the challenges of coming out in high school, as portrayed in Leah on the Offbeat. Why do you think it was hard for Leah to be open and honest with her friends about her bisexuality?

  • What other themes did you notice in the story? For example, feeling comfortable in your body, finding your first love, going to prom, and facing college and senior year angst. How do these issues affect the characters? Are they relatable?

  • Have you read any other books or seen any movies that highlight LGBTQ characters and their experiences? What do they have in common? How is this story different?

Book details

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