Book Reviews

Review: The Upside of Unrequited By Becky Albertalli

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Published: April 11th 2017 by Balzer + Bray

Source: Local Library

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness, Romance

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?

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Spoiler Free Review:

I’ve read Becky Albertalli’s debut, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda the year it was released and I remember finding it utterly adorable when I first read it. I’m really excited for the movie and I’m hoping they do it justice (since Keiynan Lonsdale will play a certain favorite character 😉 ). The Upside of Unrequited is a loose companion and follows Abby’s (one of Simon’s friendsbest friend Molly who has suffered from unrequited love far too many times. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this story, it’s equally as adorable and fluffy as Simon. 

With contemporary books, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact plot. It isn’t like a thriller novel where there’s a conflict that needs to be solved. There were several conflicts within the whole self discovery concept which seems to be present in every contemporary story. Molly tries to sort out her unrequited love life while dealing with trying to keep a close relationship with her sister and dealing with her conflicting feelings. But it’s more than just a love story, in fact I wouldn’t even consider it a love story. Family is a huge part of the book and the parents are actually very much present in the story for once.

The representation in this book is golden. Molly may be white but there is still positive own voices fat representation and Molly also has anxiety. She has two moms, one of whom is a person of color along with her baby brother. Molly and her twin sister are also sperm donor babies which is something I’ve never read about. Molly’s twin Cassie is lesbian and her girlfriend, Mina is Korean and pansexual. A small thing I can appreciate is that Mina’s parents are second generation Korean American. Her parents were raised in America. I always find with books on Asian parents, they always end up being immigrants so it was nice to see a change. Also, Molly’s crushes are not constricted to only straight white guys. Some of which included a transman and Lin Manuel Miranda (which I totally get ;))

Molly as a character was incredibly sweet, shy and awkward. But definitely someone I would be friends with. As far as unrequited love, it’s not something I can relate to since I’m never actively seeking a relationship. The anxiety was definitely relatable though and I was glad to see that even if it was in the background, it still played a role in Molly’s character. At first, Molly’s issue with unrequited love seemed really petty and stupid. She made some really idiotic decisions that had me face palming. Some people might say that she was being a teenager, but I can tell you, as a teenager, a lot of her decisions were incredibly stupid. I guess I should cut her some slack since clearly not all teenagers are the same. I really enjoyed the other characters as well, Cassie is a total bad-ass and Mina is adorable. Also, Reid totally reminded me of Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds and no one can tell me otherwise. Simon and Abby from Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda also had a cameo which was hilarious.

Overall, The Upside of Unrequited was equally adorable and addicting. Becky Albertalli really represents what I’d like to see more of in YA contemporary. This book is proof that you can be inclusive in representation and still follow a white protagonist. Becky Albertalli was able to include POC and LGBTQ+ characters and it all flowed so well together. It was never a big ordeal and was normalized. To the authors who would like to include diversity in their novels, this is how it should be done. You can be a white and a privileged author and include diversity without harmful stereotypes and discrimination. Thank you to Becky Albertalli for an incredibly sweet and inclusive novel.

Rating: 4/5

 

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