Content warnings: fatphobia, homophobia, biphobia
So here we have the sequel to Simon Vs. which focusses on Leah. Leah is a fat, bisexual girl who has only told her mum that she’s bi, despite her best friend being openly gay and happy. So Leah has to figure out how she’s going to go about telling her friends whilst also harbouring a crush on someone she knows is completely off limits.
God I have been waiting for this book for what feels like forever. When I read this it had been over a year since I’d had new Becky Albertalli and I was absolutely dying for this. What I found in Leah was what I was hoping for, a kindred spirit, brutal in her honesty and abrasive when upset. I found someone so similar to me.
I’m very happy that there are more books with body positive fat girls because I needed that as a teenager. I think I would feel more comfortable in my skin had I read books like these growing up.
Leah is a very harsh human, she wears her angry emotions on her sleeve and her heart stays behind closed doors. This means that some people will not like her as a character to read. For me this was not the case, she’s one of my favorite characters I’ve read. I’m very straight and to the point, some people see me as harsh, and my sarcasm sometimes doesn’t register with people right. This was 100% what Leah was like, and honestly, sometimes she could be a bit mean, and I’m not going to hide that I can be mean at times.
One of the biggest problems I know a lot of people found in this book was that at a point in the book Leah gets very upset with a character and yells at them for basically saying they’re trying to figure out their sexuality. And look I completely understand the frustrations, they’re completely valid. Hollie, a bisexual blogger, explained very well why this upset and others, and I recommend reading her review! For me I read the situation differently, I remember when someone who didn’t know their sexuality was labelled “bicurious” and there was a lot of discourse around that. Sexuality is seen as more fluid now and there are a lot more people who do not know or want to label themselves. But for me I could understand why Leah lashed out the way she did because if you’re someone who likes labels and someone you are “hanging out” with says to you “oh I don’t know what I am I’m just going with the flow” then this could throw up warning signs for someone to turn around and end things. And whilst I’m not bi, I’m pan and these are definitely not the same sexuality at all, I feel like we have some similar experiences at times. So I do understand exactly where the frustration is coming from, but I saw things from a different point of view. I think a lot of the frustration comes from Leah not being called out on page which is completely warranted, and I agree she should’ve been but thankfully this didn’t cause me upset unlike it did to quite a few people. But if you haven’t read this yet be aware that that scene has been emotionally harmful to others and make sure you’re taking appropriate measures of self-care!
We got to see so much of Simon and Blue (I’m saying blue just in case anyone is reading this who hasn’t read Simon), and I absolutely adored that, I love them as a couple. But it never felt like they were taking over the show or anything.
I did really love this book, but it is my least favourite of Becky’s books so far. Upside is number 1, because it was the first book I ever felt validated in, and Simon holds such a special place in my heart. I’m excited what Becky does next with her books as she’s said this is the last in this specific universe.