Title // The Upside of Unrequited
Author // Becky Albertalli
Publisher // Balzer + Bray
Publication Date // April 11th, 2017
Synopsis // Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because 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. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And 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 an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)
So after LOVING Simon and HATING Leah, I wasn’t quite sure what I expect going into this book. I landed in the middle; neither impressed nor disappointed, but at a rather average three star book, enjoyable and annoying. The best part of this book was my baby Simon showing up for a one paragraph cameo to declare that Abby is a Gryffindor–but that’s beside the point.
One thing that Albertalli undeniably excels at is diversity, and this book is no exception! There’s lots of lgbtq+ rep in this book, as Molly has two moms (and a large plot point in the book is their upcoming wedding after the landmark supreme court case that legalized gay marriage!) and her twin sister has a girlfriend. There’s also great fat rep, as Molly often thinks of herself as not pretty due to being plus sized, but eventually comes to realize she’s beautiful as she is despite what judgmental people may say! Molly also has anxiety and is Jewish! And of course there’s great POC diversity; one of her moms and her brother (and Abby!) are black and her sister’s girlfriend is Korean!
Aside from the diversity, I felt pretty meh about Molly. There were some things she did that definitely annoyed me, such as being rather mean to her sister at times, intentionally using a guy to make another guy jealous, turning on a friend because of a boy, and just all around complaining about feeling left out, feeling like the last virgin, wanting a boyfriend, and other things she spends the whole book angsting about.
On the other hand, Molly could be really relatable and there were some things I loved about her! I loved how despite some issues, she really cared about her sister and her family. She was so protective and loyal to the people she loved. I loved how crafty she was–something I can relate to as a crafty person myself. And as much as her complaining annoyed me at times, most of the time I really related to feeling like a late bloomer because of not having a high school boyfriend or not being kissed; I definitely related to her insecurities and struggles that come with being a high schooler growing up.
There were some themes about growing up that I really loved in this book. Molly starts to grow apart from her twin sister and talks about how as they get boy/girlfriends, they may not be the most important people in each others lives, and how change in inevitable but scary. Molly is going into her senior year of high school, which I just finished, and this book is really the perfect book to read as a senior because it was so darn relatable with regards to the fear and sadness with change and the unknown.
I felt unfortunately meh about the romance. I just didn’t really feel any sparks or chemistry! Particularly since for a large part of the book, there’s almost a fake but not really love triangle; Molly obviously likes one guy, but she and her friends are insisting she likes another guy and she keeps hanging out with him and it was pretty unnecessary and too much drama. Her romance was cute, but not swoon worthy or anything and although I just read this book today I can’t really recall any particular swoony moments that stood out to me.
I enjoyed her friendships as well, but I also kind of felt like there may have been too many characters to the point that I didn’t really get that attached to them? For the main teen characters, not to mention Molly’s family, there’s Molly and her twin sister Cassie, and her two guys Will and Reid, as well as this other guy they’re friends with named I think Max, and also the best friend Olivia and also the cousin Abby (<3) and also the girlfriend Mina and I don’t think I’m forgetting anyone? They often hung out as a group, and while it was kind of fun to see the group hanging out, mostly I didn’t get attached to any side characters or friends because I was always juggling them all.
The plot was kind of meh, but pretty cute. It was another summer contemporary which I didn’t realize going into it, but there were some fun scenes such as the Fourth of July, but also not really? Aside from a few mentions I didn’t really get any summery vibes from it, but whatever. Anyways, overall this was an enjoyable book, not outstanding like Simon or anything, but a worthwhile read.