Sigh. I don't know why there always has to be a follow-up to a popular book before an author can work out the kinks and or think to themselves is the book in question necessary. "Leah on the Offbeat" was not good. This book ruined characters from the first book in the series "Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda." Leah is also a jerk, I didn't like her and I wasn't rooting for her at all. There is still an issue with the author not really getting African American communities at all and how they are towards those who identify as gay. It's not realistic to just keep showing things as perfect. It just feels like there are blinders up in order to force fit a HEA that doesn't work for the book.
Leah who was introduced in the first book is dealing with the fact it's senior year and all of her friends seem to be moving on. Even her mother seems to have found someone to be with and is moving on from her father leaving them both years earlier. We quickly find out though that Leah has a crush on someone (that comes out of left field) and makes zero sense in context to the first book. So the entire book is just Leah thinking about this person, obsessing about this person, and getting mad this person isn't doing what Leah wants them to do.
I hard cringed though this whole book. There is no there there with Leah. The Leah in the first book was a drummer, into magna it seemed, and was fierce about her friendships with Nick and Simon. This Leah doesn't play the drums once in the whole story. Is totally absent from Nick's life it seems, and only seems to talk to Simon here and there. She's also fighting with her mom and her friends from the band. Everyone seemed to have a total personality transplant and it was maddening.
Nick doesn't feel real anymore, not even Abby or Morgan, Nora, etc do. Instead these are just people moving in and out of Leah's story. I don't know if Albertalli meant to do that, but it really felt like Leah had no one really in her life.
The romance felt forced in this one instead of like a happy surprise that it was when we were following Simon and Blue. It didn't feel real or earned and I hated that Leah had the nerve to argue that someone should be forced to come out before they were ready when she hadn't even told her mother or friends about her liking this person or even hinting that she could like girls. It was like Albertalli forgot what a garbage person Martin Addison was for blackmailing and then outing Simon in the first book.
I also feel frustrated because I really wanted a book that accurately portrayed the lengths the African American community needs to still go with regards to accepting and acknowledging LGBT people.
The book taking place in Georgia once again didn't seem to be that realistic. It's 2018 and the book references Hamilton and other things that show it's taking place in our here and now, but not very well. There is a whole sub-plot about Leah calling out someone from her friend group for being racist and I kid you not it didn't seem believable to me at all. It felt shoehorned in there so Leah could be a better person, but even I got sick of her self righteousness after a while. This person eventually apologizes to Leah saying she needed to be a better ally and I rolled my eyes.
The writing felt more empty this time. There are not emails going back and forth between love interests. Just Leah moving through her day and getting texts here and there. There is eventually a road trip that also didn't help matters. I felt like I was in a totally different book.
The ending was a joke. We have a time jump so we don't get to see the immediate fall-out to Leah and her new love interest. Instead we get an email (finally) between Leah and Simon and Leah is just giving a quick recap on people who once again don't feel real. I can say that the friendship between Simon, Leah, and Nick seems to be over and that made me sad.