Leah knows drumming and she understands music. Everything else in her life? She has no idea how to handle. It is her senior year and the world feels like it is slipping through her fingers. Friends are fighting. In the Fall they will all be entering into a whole new stage of life, without one another.
On top of all of that she is struggling with a secret crush, one that she is sure will destroy her life and hurt her friends. How can she find her way in the world when at every turn it seems like everything and everyone is against her?
I adored Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. (You can read my glowing review here). In that book Simon and Blue were the two that captivated my attention. The rest of the cast was interesting but they didn’t make me wonder too hard about them. They were just Simon’s friends and I liked the role they played in that story.
This as Leah’s story and I actually loved learning more about her. She was probably the least developed in Simon. I loved her character. She is unapologetically herself. She is crass, she is loud and she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. I found her character refreshing.
I have read reviews that see Leah as too whiny but I thought her issues and her complaining were very relatable. Leah is struggling to figure out where she belongs in her world. She is also someone who overthinks everything. I related well to this issue.
As someone who constantly thinks her choices are the wrong ones I understood Leah’s issues. I understood why she would be upset half the time and why she was constantly fighting everyone. She wanted to belong but she wanted to belong her way. She wanted to stay true to herself while also evolve without seeming phony or fake. Leah was a complicated character and I loved that about her.
I also really enjoyed a very short conversation that was held about being Bi and what labels can mean. One character classify themselves as “Kind bi” and Leah gets upset at them. She points out there is no “kinda bi,” there is you are Bi or you aren’t. The other character pushes back stating their confusion and how they don’t know where they quite fit in.
I thought this was a very important discussion. We sometimes think that we have to have a label for ourselves. We then have to fit into everything that label entails. This creates a serious issue because no one will ever fit one specific label or idea exactly. We all are different. We all have different ways of defining ourselves and I think if a label makes that difficult you shouldn’t have to use one. Labels are good if they help you but if they don’t, don’t worry about them. Anyone who fights you is too busy trying to live their life in one defined way and that is not your problem.
I thought this story did a good job at showing the uncertainty that comes with senior year of high school. It is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. You are going to be an “adult” even though you have no idea what that means. I liked how true to life some of the fears and issues explored in this book felt.
I loved Simon vs. because of the connection between Blue and Simon. I also loved it because the plot was easy and precise. This one was missing both of those elements.
I felt like Leah’s story was missing the growing connection between two people. The relationship in this one was wrought with indecision and confusion, which made sense but it never felt like the two characters were getting any closer. I didn’t feel like Leah was learning anything about the other character. I felt like it was more annoyance that eventually evened out. I didn’t feel like she was becoming closer with the person she was crushing on.
The plot in this book was also just about trying to get through this crush. Simon was about Simon coming out and finding out who Blue was. There was more story than just the romance. This one was about her senior year and romance, but it was all around this back and forth relationship. I wanted more to the plot.
I also felt like Leah’s drumming and music were underutilized in this story. There were a few metaphors made but she didn’t really play drums often. I wanted to see her develop as a musician and see music help her find her way. I think if that had been added in this story would have been stronger.
The biggest issue I had with this story was the ending. It was too quick. In Simon vs. we learn who Blue is and there is a bit of Simon and Blue developing their relationship. We get some scenes we rarely see in books, them just being together. In Leah we got none of that.
In this book we got the big kiss and reveal and then a quick wrap up email to let us know what happened to everyone else and that was it. We don’t get to see the two characters develop their relationship at all. We don’t get to see them talk as a couple. We don’t get to see anything meaningful between them. I wanted more like what Simon left us with, a giddy and happy feeling. Instead I felt like I do often in these books, almost indifferent. I think it would have just been nice to see a bit more of these two together as a couple at the end.
I ended up giving this story 3 stars on Goodreads. It was a good read. I enjoyed learning more about Leah, I just wish it had felt deeper and more meaningful like Simon vs. did.
“But it sucks when life moves along without you.” (pg. 17)
“That has to be the best part of being in love – the feeling of having a home in someone else’s brain.” (pg. 43)
“Like, I call myself an ally. […] But then the second it gets personal, it all flies out the window. I’ll never forget that I said that.” (pg. 286)
Simon is a normal kid. He has good friends, a great family and he seems to enjoy school. There is just one thing, he has been keeping a big secret. He is gay. Only an email pen pal, one of the few people he feels like he can truly open up to, knows. Through twist and turns Simon not only comes out but learns about himself, his friends and family. And in the end learns love is a beautiful thing.
What I loved:
I don’t even know where to start with this book. I have about four other books I should be writing a review for but I have decided this one has to come first. I want to write a review for this book because I have to talk about how much I loved it!
I have heard about this book for ages. I keep seeing recommendations on blogs and Twitter. Some of my favorite authors love this book and I have meant to read it. I just keep getting distracted (It is always like, “Oh yeah, I’ll read that one. OOooo look that new pretty one.” Its bad.). I finally picked it up at Target with a gift card and I am so glad I did. This book lives up to everything I have heard about it and it has become one of my all time favorites.
First up lets talk about how this book left me literally feeling high and giddy at the end. I have read books with great endings before. I have read books that leave me feeling drunk on them. I have not read a book that has made me as happy as this book did. I was grinning so hard my face hurt at the end.
This book felt like a fairytale to me. It wasn’t unbelievable, just that happy, perfect, loving feeling that fairytales leave behind. That feeling of hope and joy you feel when you finish a fairytale. I felt all of that with this book.
I jokingly said when I finished, that I felt in love because of how strong and real the emotions were in this book. I raced through it because I felt like I was on the rollercoaster ride with Simon. I was impressed with how spot on this book felt, with how real and alive it was. I am not emotional so for a book to pull out a strong emotion like, pure joy, from me is impressive.
Let’s move onto the characters. Simon was great. At first he felt one note, I felt like I knew his character but as the story progressed I saw his growth and change. I liked how his emails with Blue helped him learn aspects about himself. This was one of the strongest parts of this story. The way the two of them were able pull revelations out about themselves and each other was fantastic. Simon grew and he grew in exactly the way he needed to grow.
Simon’s reflections on his sexuality were great. I liked that he wasn’t ashamed. He was just trying to find a way to make a declaration when he didn’t understand why he had to. I loved his point about how it doesn’t make sense that not everyone has to come out. I agree with him that straight people should have to make a big deal about their sexuality and revealing it like the LGBTQIA+ community always has to do, or on the flip side no one has to make a big deal about it (what I hope the future holds one day). The reflections on that idea hit home for me. It made sense and they way he talked about it was perfect.
I also liked the progression of how he came out. It wasn’t ideal and it wasn’t the way it should have happened. We saw him go through a gambit of emotions about how it happened and come to a conclusion about how to handle it. It felt true to life. The one scene where he is yelling at someone was done perfectly. I was angry and upset and wanted to cry just like Simon. What he states is exactly right about the situation.
Simon’s family was great as well. I think I liked them because they reminded me so much of my own family. They are goofy and have inside jokes. His parents wanted to just know him and watch him grow and not miss anything. It made me smile because I could relate to everything they said and did.
The mystery about Blue was captivating. I read the book and raced through it because I had to know who Blue was. I thought I knew once or twice. I did end up guessing right but I liked that mystery element. I liked that we got subtle clues and if we paid attention we could see the revelation. I do want to reread it one day and see if I could pick on some things.
The end where we learn who Blue was, was exactly what I wanted. The connection that was formed was true and it came from the emails. We saw that their conversations mattered. Nothing was made up. Nothing was done on a sly manner. They bared their souls, and grew even if they didn’t meet face to face for a while. It showed that email and text conversations can form a true connection between people.
I have an issue with people who think that because of the internet and phones we have no ability to connect with other people anymore. This book shows how untrue that can be. If you open yourself up and write what you really think, you can build a bond. A bond is not only built face to face. A bond is built through honesty and sharing who you truly are with someone. That is what ultimately matters.
We saw this in this book. Blue and Simon connected. They grew as a pair of friends and then more, all through email. When they met that spark was there, that connection was true and alive. They were able to move forward because the groundwork was already put down. It was heartwarming to read.
What I was just okay with:
I think the only thing I could think of that drew me up short was that some details weren’t mentioned right away. Like Simon has glasses and I didn’t realize that until about 3/4 of the way through the book. He has to put in contacts and I had to then reimagine him. I don’t like having to change how I see a character that I have been reading for pages.
It wasn’t enough to throw me out of the story but it did stop me short a few times. I just had to readjust and I wasn’t prepared for that.
What I wished was different:
Nothing. I can’t think of one thing I had a true problem with. As If you couldn’t tell by my gushing above.
I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads and it deserved everyone. If you want a sweet, coming of age, coming out and falling in love story, this is perfect. If you want a happy ending with pure giddy joy, this is perfect. I can’t wait until the Leah on the Offbeat comes out.
“It’s like they have this idea of me, and whenever I step outside of that, it blows their minds.” (pg. 54)
“But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again. (pg. 56) (Has to be one of my favorite parts of this book.)
“Being secure in your masculinity isn’t the same as being straight.” (pg. 65)
“Why is straight the default?” (pg. 146)
“It is definitely annoying that straight (and white for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don’t fit that mold.” (pg. 147). (This whole chapter of conversations is so important).