A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
- Author: Becky Albertalli
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: April 24, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 343
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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