Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
Genre: YA, contemporary
Published on: April 24, 2018
This story follows Leah, one of the characters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda as she navigates through her last year of high school with her friends. She has to figure out how to deal with her mom dating a new guy, problems in her friend group, and the fact that she’s bisexual and hasn’t told anyone.
Honestly there kind of wasn’t more to the story than that? Comparing it to the other books Becky Albertalli has written it becomes more evident that this is unique to just this book. Simon had the mystery of Blue and blackmail, The Upside of Unrequited had the main character on the quest for true love but this was just kind of Leah dealing with problems she half made up for herself, there was no overarching plotline. Granted, while reading the book this wasn’t as much of a problem for me as at the end when I realized that this book literally reads like fanfiction. It felt like a quick addition to the original book as the characters just finish up high school without anything major happening besides just that struggle that everyone goes through.
However my main issue with this book was Leah, which seems to be an aspect everyone is completely split on. There were many moments where she lashed out that I found to be actually understandable of a teenage girl going through her problems, but I do completely get that there were many instances where she treated her friends and family like garbage. I felt like she made up a lot of problems for herself and was horrible to those who tried to help her, which I get why but at the same time I wish she had more development throughout the story where she maybe apologized or someone called her out for it. I did listen to this book on audio which I think is what actually made me dislike her less because she seemed more like a person and I guess I was more sympathetic towards her.
The part that got me in the end was definitely the f/f romance. Even though I didn’t particularly like Leah, I loved her love interest so much (I don’t know if who it is is common knowledge but I’ll leave the name out just in case) and getting to look at her through Leah’s heart eyes just made me love her even more. But you know, the more that I think about this book the more problems jump out at me about the way their relationship progressed. I got sucked into the romance because of the bi representation and just how absolutely adorable the love interest is but aside from that, I really didn’t enjoy how their relationship developed.
The elements that I enjoyed of this book are those common to all the Becky Albertalli books, especially in the Creekworld world. Just getting to see the characters again is what made me pick this book up originally and it was so fun. However just looking at the book itself without Simon to guide it just kind of fell really flat for me.