Why "Leah on the Offbeat" Deserves Our Love

You may know Becky Albertalli from her debut novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, a young adult novel following the story of a gay teenage boy navigating the many struggles of high school while also coming to terms with his sexuality.  The novel was later adapted in a film entitled Love, Simon.  The film became the first mainstream gay coming-of-age film, and its success has been revolutionary for queer representation in mainstream media. 

The representation provided by Albertalli’s multiple gay and bisexual male characters in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is extremely important, however, her most popular work is not her only novel centered around the experiences of LGBTQ+ teens.  Albertalli also released a YA novel entitled Leah on the Offbeat that provides a unique view of female bisexuality.  This novel is also a part of the Simonverse, however, it is told from the perspective of one of Simon’s closest friends.      

Leah on the Offbeat follows the story of Leah Burke, Simon’s best friend in Albertalli’s first novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.  Leah struggles to come out to her friends as bisexual while harboring a massive crush on one of her female best friends.  The novel provides some really awesome representation to the bi community, which is extremely underrepresented in media today.  It especially highlights the unique struggles bisexual women face in female friendships due to the perpetuation of negative stereotypes about bisexuality.  In addition to providing this representation, the novel follows a plus-size female protagonist and discusses the factors affecting teens’ body image and self-love today.

This book is super important to me because, until its release, I’d never read a love story that I identified with so deeply.  While LGBTQ+ representation in the media has certainly improved, there is still an extreme lack of well-written bisexual characters, especially well-written female bisexual characters.  Leah on the Offbeat demonstrates a clear understanding of the struggles of female bisexual teens, and this sort of representation could not be more necessary.  Many of the struggles that bi people face are the result of a lack of understanding of bisexuality.  Their struggles are unique both to the straight and queer communities, so without education or awareness of bisexual issues, it can be easy for people outside of the bi+ community to unintentionally perpetuate negative stereotypes or otherwise feed into biphobia.  Increased representation of bisexuality in the media can resolve this ignorance and can greatly contribute to combating biphobia. 

Whether you identify directly with Leah’s story or not, Leah on the Offbeat is a hysterical, thrilling, and wholesome story of young sapphic love.  Its representation of female bisexuality is not only important for representation and awareness – but it also provides a beautiful love story that many bi women can identify with in a way they never have before. 

 

If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet Albertalli’s diverse characters through any of her four novels, I highly suggest you start reading!

 

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