The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli – Balzer+Bray – Published 11 April 2017
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.
A forthright book about love, falling in love, that crazy feeling of falling in love, family, dating, and relationships.
Molly had has twenty-six crushes and counting. Her twin sister has had many dates, kisses and relationships, even if they only last a short time. But when Molly’s sister falls in love – for real this time – Molly senses that their close relationship is changing. And then there are the two boys – one, the boy her sister would like her to date and the other her geeky, new co-worker who makes her laugh and not totally tongue tied.
I admired Molly’s voice. It is so authentically and uniquely her. Her character is layered and realistic. I liked how there were so many little things that were just a part of who she is. For example, Molly has anxiety. She takes medication for it and she mentions it offhandedly a few times and feels anxious about some things and laughed about a few times anxiety got the better of her, but her anxiety wasn’t a defining feature of her character, especially not in her eyes. The same goes for her weight. She is totally upfront about her weight but she herself is ok with her size. The only thing she worries about is how others view her. She wishes they could be as accepting of her as she is. Again, just another facet that makes up Molly. But the majority of her focus and that of the book’s is on dating and falling in love.
One thing I absolutely love is the unabashedly open desire to fall in love. Molly acknowledges that she is, by today’s standard, not supposed to want love above everything else. She is supposed to be okay with being single while people around her couple up. And yes, she knows she has to stand on her own feet, want her own things, but I have to say it was refreshing to have a character openly admit that it was okay to want to fall in love. And to add to all that, Molly likes crafting and dessert, Pinterest and cats. Let’s just say there is a lot to like about Molly.
I can totally relate to Molly’s view about relationships – part amazement, part skepticism, part watching from the sidelines wondering how she seems to be the only person who missed out on some sort of vital information and secret keys to the club. My favourite line was “I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.”
You certainly have to give this book props for being diverse. Colour, size, religion, sexual orientation… This book brings together a vibrant cast of characters. The Upside of Unrequited also contains plenty of pop culture references, and emoji and texting are woven seamlessly into the story. Though, I have to admit that Wikipedia was my friend while reading this book. I had to look up a number of slang and newly popular terms. This book was an educational experience to say the least.
The Upside of Unrequited is a fun, emotional, and diverse book about love and relationships.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Love, dating, relationships, LGBT, romance, sex, family, anxiety, body weight, self esteem, sisters.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Frequent, strong reference to sex and genitalia. Strong, frequent coarse language, f***, sh**, sl**, mo****f*****, dou***, bit** and variations of the above. Underage alcohol use and references.
Published: 11 April 2017 by Balzer+Bray.
Format: Hardcover, paperback. ebook. 352 pages.