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.
“Imagine going about your day knowing someone’s carrying you in their mind. That has to be the best part of being in love- the feeling of having a home in some else’s brain.”
Unpopular opinion alert: this book really sucks and it’s all Leah’s fault.
Oh man. This book… Right now I’m supposed to be doing a crap ton of homework and I would normally love to procrastinate writing a review but this book just made me so angry and so I’ve been thinking about it all day and probably won’t be productive or get anything done until I rant and get my feelings out? Argh!!
So I really, really, really wanted to love this book. I was convinced I was going to love it. I was so excited to pick it up and delve back into the world of Creekside because, if you don’t know, Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda was easily a 5 star read, one of the best books I’ve ever read, and basically perfect in every way. I could not find one single thing wrong with it and I loved it to death and… But this isn’t a review of that book (although I have reviewed that book and you can find it but I’m too lazy to link to it) so I must stop.
I didn’t completely hate this book, for sure. Here are some of the highlights!
-This book was so funny! I loved how Cal’s musical performance is basically a preschool recital and the hilarious text messages quoting 50 shades Simon sends after his phone is pranked.
-Simon and Blue are just perfect goalsssss and omg I’m so down to read a sequel just about them because I LOVE THEM! OTP! SHIP! *heart eyes emojissssss*
-Just like in Simon Vs, the diversity is perfect and amazing! The main characters include gay and bi people, black and Chinese people, Jewish people, overweight people, people with anxiety, and probably more that I can’t even remember! Becky Albertalli is still the queen of diversity, no doubt!
-The ending with going off to college felt realistic, if a bit bittersweet. The characters put themselves first in choosing their colleges, not relationships, and I’m so happy! College is such a huge change and I definitely believe you should never make this decision based on someone else who might not even stay in your life. (view spoiler)
Unfortunately, that’s going to be it for the positives about this book. And now, for the negatives…namely: LEAH!
I actually hate Leah so much. And this makes me so sad because I loved everyone in the main perfect four (Simon, Nick, Abby, Leah) from the first book and this book has made me hate Leah!! But honestly, she is the most mean, judgmental, hypocritical little b*tch I’ve ever read about. In handy dandy list form, here are some of the things I HATED most about her!
REVERSE FAT SHAMING (is that the right word? lol don’t come for me pls)
Leah is overweight and she loves herself for it and I love her for it! She’s confident in her own skin and I’m so happy to see girls like that, girls who are breaking down barriers! BUT! Right off the bat when she is the only person in her group to not order food and her friend asks if she’s on a diet, she basically freaks out and goes on this rant like who says things like that is it so hard to believe I love myself blah blah. Maybe it wasn’t the most sensitive thing of her friend to ask, but it’s not implausible if she’s not ordering food? Leah mentions how she ate in the car but how would her friend who wasn’t there to have known? Yeah, the comment may have been a bit rude, but not so terrible Leah should rant and rant about it.
But what *really* annoyed me was when Leah is in a dressing room and she overhears a “skinny girl” asking her friend if her arms look fat. Leah immediately goes on a rant about how much she hates skinny girls who call themselves fat, and then continues to rant about how this girl she’s never met or seen is probably a rich suburban girl she hates.
Like, what the heck? How is it okay to condemn people for judging overweight people and then judge skinny people? Maybe this girl is overweight too, but wears a smaller size because she’s really short. Maybe this girl is really trying to lose weight because SHE wants to, and there’s NOTHING wrong with that! Nothing wrong with being overweight, but also nothing wrong with losing weight if it’s what YOU want! Or maybe she’s so skinny that she has zero boobs and could basically pass for a boy (like me lol) and is really insecure about it. Maybe she got a job and worked hard to afford her prom dress, and has even less money than Leah, and wants to spend that hard earned money on what she feels will make her look best. The point is, Leah immediately hating her because she’s a size four is just wrong.
THE “RACIST” COMMENT
So when Leah’s friend gets rejected from her dream school, she says a racist comment complaining that she got rejected because she’s white, and another girl only got in because she’s black. Leah immediately freaks out, ending a friendship from middle school (7 years? idk) on the spot for that one comment.
The thing is, yeah, that’s a racist and uncalled for comment. But it was one comment said when extremely upset that she apologized to both the girl she commented on and Leah for. She said something stupid when emotional that she felt bad about and probably didn’t really mean. And Leah was willing to end a years long friendship over it? If she was never racist in 7 years, she’s probably not a racist and just said one stupid thing, made one mistake, and Leah’s like THATS IT YOURE EVIL!
And tbh, I understand the girl’s frustration. It’s easier to get into schools on the basis of race. Harvard is facing a lawsuit over making it harder for Asians to get in. While it’s not okay for her to assume the girl got in because she’s black, it’s definitely justified to feel frustrated because she’s white and worked just as hard as some minority students IN GENERAL. In short, Leah is so judgemental, not willing to give anyone a chance and just aoisejklfd
THE “BI” COMMENT
This is the one that made me the most angry, and reading other reviews I see other people see the same way. When one girl is questioning whether or not she’s bi, or what exactly she is, Leah tells her she can either be bi or not bi, like being pregnant or not pregnant, and she can’t be “lowkey bi.” Just because Leah has it figured out doesn’t mean this other girl does, and who is she to force a label on someone questioning?
Leah is constantly complaining internally about how she doesn’t have much money and how other people have so much money. And I get it. I have friends who have substantially more money than me. But their parents worked hard to get that money and I’m so sick of Leah’s judgmental attitude. She complains about how her friends are going so far away spending so much touring colleges but if that’s what they want to do with their money, who is she to judge? It’s like she constantly assumes people with more money than her are spoiled insensitive brats and I was so sick of her attitude.
So there’s this guy who has a painfully obvious crush on Leah, and she has no feelings whatsoever for him, but leads him along for the whole book. Either that, or she’s the most stupid idiot ever to not notice his puppy love. Unless she’s so stupid, she realizes he likes her and just does nothing, mentioning how it’s nice to be liked for once, agreeing to go to prom with him, allowing him to pay for her meals, just because? Why? She’s cruel? There’s also a scene where she mentions how much she hates people who are fake and pretend they’ve heard of a band when they haven’t, and then some five pages later lies to this guy telling him she was supporting him when she was really at home.
What’s the worst is that this is never resolved. She just strings this guy along for the whole book, developing romantically with someone else, and he’s just… there. It’s cruel, really. And at the end it’s never mentioned what happens of him so I assume she either just keeps stringing him along until graduation while she’s with someone else, or else she’s just like lol btw I never liked you all along prom was fun bye looser.
TALKING BEHIND HER BACK
Leah is “friends” with Taylor, which basically means they’re in a band together, and in the second chapter she mentions how awesome this girl is, and then she spends the rest of the book dissing her and showing her to be a b*tchy boy obsessed mean girl. In other words, it’s clear that she doesn’t like her, and constantly disses her behind her back, and then pretends to be friends with her? What a great person. (not)
At this point I feel like I’m missing something but I can’t remember so I’m just going to move on to the other things that annoyed the crap out of me about this book that don’t have to do with Leah’s personality because believe me, they exist too.
THE MAIN RELATIONSHIP
So Leah and her love interest’s relationship… Yeah, I really hated who it was. This has literally nothing to do with the fact that it’s a f/f relationship; I would be equally pissed if it was m/f or m/m or whatever. It’s a character we know from Simon Vs, and I hate it so much and wish with all of my being that it was a new character introduced because then I probably would have loved the relationship. It basically breaks friend code. (view spoiler)
DESTROYING MY BELOVED CHARACTERS
Yeah. I loved everyone from Simon Vs. But Albertalli basically ruins all of them. (Except Simon and Blue because they are perfect in every way and total perfection).
LEAH: I think I’ve said enough from the review above. She’s awful.
NICK: He is kind of seen as this pathetic, drunk, ahole that leaves you with no sympathy for him. But I really liked him, him and everyone, in the first book and I hate how his character was treated here!
ABBY: Yeah, she was epic but she ends up pretty cruel too. (view spoiler)
TAYLOR: She was such a hated mean girl for most of Simon Vs, and then she got some amazing character development at the end and really seemed more fleshed out and three dimensional! But here she literally goes back to being a hated mean girl.
this book sucks
No. It doesn’t completely suck. It’s definitely not the worst I’ve read this year, and it’s not a one star. As I mentioned above, there are some great things out this book (Simon and Blue ahhhhhh), but overall having to listen to Leah’s awful voice narrate everything is just some sort of torture. If you LOVED Simon Vs, like me, I highly recommend you don’t read this book lest it ruin the first book and how you view those characters! And if you didn’t love that book, I still don’t recommend this book! Now, I fully expect to be burned by people because it seems like everyone loved this book, so COME AT ME because I stand by my opinion that this book is awful. And now, I really want to reread Simon Vs to be reunited with my perfect perfection Simon and Blue. YOU GUYS DIDN’T DESERVE THIS TREATMENT I LOVE YOU TWO
★★ / 5