The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Release date: April 11th, 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Rating: 5/5 stars – a new favorite
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.
Synopsis: 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.
When I saw this book on Netgalley, I knew I had to request it. I absolutely adored Becky Albertalli’s first book: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I was delighted when I was approved. After I finished Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop, I knew I wanted something cute to read. So I thought it was the perfect time to pick this up. I was not ready for the emotions this book would stir up in me, though.
This is the story of Molly and her family. Molly has a twin sister, Cassie, two moms, Nadine & Patty, and a little brother called Xavier. She also has a grandma called Betty -and I can’t decide whether I like her or not. They are Jewish, although not orthodox I believe because they do eat bacon. Cassie and Molly were conceived through the use of a sperm donor, so Patty could get pregnant. And their little brother Xavier was conceived with the same sperm donor and Nadine.
I think this family is wonderful for several reasons. First of all, they are so wonderfully diverse. Patty is bisexual. I’m not sure whether Nadine is too, or whether she identifies more as lesbian. Cassie, Molly’s twin, is gay. Patty and Nadine are an interracial couple, which is why Xavier also has a different skin color than Cassie and Molly do. There was this one part where Nadine said that everyone always assumed she was the nanny when she went out with Cassie and Molly when they were children. Because they don’t share the same skin color. I can’t imagine how much that would hurt. That everyone assumes your children are not yours. Second, I love the portrayal of a good family life. This is truly a wonderful family. They are supportive, kind and honest. They are the kind of parents people look up to. And it’s also mentioned that Molly has anxiety, and that she’s been taking medication for a year now.
This family takes shit from no one. And they are hilarious. A quote, to prove it:
She’s never liked him, ever since he asked if Cassie was actually queer, or if she was trying to emulate our moms. He actually used the word emulate. I don’t even want to remember that particular stretch of awkward silence. Actually, I do. It was kind of amazing.
Aside from all that wonderfulness, the reason I adored this book so much was Molly. Recently, I read and reviewed Radio Silence. And I mentioned it was the only contemporary I’d read so far to which I could actually really relate. It’s not the only one anymore. I think if you combine Molly and Frances (from Radio Silence), you’ll have created me. I could have cried for this girl, because I recognized so much of myself in her.
Molly is a plus-size girl. She frequently has crushes on people, but has never had the courage to say anything. While I can’t entirely relate to her journey, I can relate to her feelings and emotions so well. How she is too afraid to say something ridiculous to a crush, so she just says nothing. How she’s afraid they won’t like her, because she’s not a skinny girl. How scared she is of rejection. Her struggle with self-love and body positivity. How you over-analyze other people’s gestures and looks. Girl, I understand you. My heart actually hurt for this girl, because I know who she is. I know what it’s like. I was so invested in her story. So proud of her by the end of it. Molly is a wonderful person, and I want her to be my friend.
Here’s a quote to illustrate Molly being plus-size, and not taking shit
“Okay, I just gotta say it.” The guy touches my arm. “You are fucking gorgeous for a big girl.” I stop short. “It’s a compliment!” I look at him. “Fuck you.”
I also loved the sister dynamic in this story. Cassie meets a girl in the beginning of the book, and quickly falls in love with her. She’s spending so much time with Mina, that Molly feels left behind. I haven’t experienced this with a sister, but I have with friends. On the one hand, you want them to be as happy as possible, and to spend time with the person they love. But you also miss them so much. And I love to see that side explored more. Because Molly does like Mina. And she also says that she is happy for Cassie. But it’s a double feeling, because you’re also sad?
Obviously, I can’t end this review without talking about Reid. I am in love with Reid. He honestly sounds like the most perfect person to ever live. He wears Middle Earth shirts. He loves Cadbury Mini Eggs. He’s a bit shy, but the kindest person ever. He has cute brown hair and hazel eyes. He loves edible cookie dough with vanilla ice cream. Sign me the hell up, because he sounds amazing. He’s also so kind to Molly. I like that she actually felt comfortable around him, and that he made her feel beautiful. I know, I know, we shouldn’t need a guy to know we are beautiful. But let’s not lie: it’s nice. I also liked that at the end, they discussed how normal it actually is to not have a partner in high school. That there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
I can gush endlessly about this book, because there are so many aspects of it I absolutely adore. I love the family dynamics. I love the friendships. I love the fact that there is a little drama but it’s not endlessly drawn out -because high school did have drama, just not as exaggerated as it usually is in books. I love Molly, because I truly understand her. I love Cassie and Mina’s relationship. I love Nadine and Patty’s relationship. I love Reid. I love how the whole thing with Will was resolved. I loved the mini Simon cameo. I love how artistic Molly is, and that her whole focus isn’t on college. I love the many aspects and facets of diversity in this book.
I just, love it. I will definitely buy a copy of this for my shelf because I have a feeling I will want to re-read it one day.