Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 11th 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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.
“But there’s this awfulness that comes when a guy thinks you like him. It’s as if he’s fully clothed and you’re naked in front of him. It’s like your heart suddenly lives outside your body, and whenever he wants, he can reach out and squeeze it.
Unless he happens to like you back.”
If The Upside of Unrequited was the standard for Contemporary Young Adult novels, they would be my favorite genre. The Upside of Unrequited had everything I wanted and more. I will be desperately wishing for more books like it. There is a diverse cast of characters, and it’s #ownvoices for Jewish, anxiety, and fat representation. You’ll fall in love with Molly Peskin-Suso and the world around her.
At seventeen, change is the main factor in Molly Peskin-Suso’s life. Molly’s mothers are finally getting married to do the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, her twin sister is on the path to getting a girlfriend, Molly’s got a new job with newcomer Reid, and she meets the boy who could potentially be her first kiss. Molly has to learn how to accept change, and finally get the courage to turn her crush into something more.
Molly Peskin-Suso is one of my favorite Young Adult characters. She’s a fat Jewish girl with anxiety, a long history of crushes, and a passion for Pinterest. I absolutely adored her voice. Becky Albertalli is know for her skill with writing teenager voices. The Upside of Unrequited is my first book by her so I was skeptical but Albertalli does it perfectly. There were so many times when I thought “that’s exactly how I feel”. It was an amazing feeling. The depiction of Molly’s anxiety was done so well. Molly also specifically mentions what medication she takes for it which I loved. I felt her insecurities and fear of relationships so deeply (albeit for different reasons). Seeing those feelings represented was so refreshing. There’s something in Molly for everyone. I just love this girl so much. I wish I could hug her.
Molly and Reid were not what I was expecting. From the synopsis, I got the vibe their relationship would be a hate to love or bad first impression kind of thing. It totally wasn’t. They got along really well in the beginning and it kind of threw me off just because of my expectations. I loved the cute vibe that they had, and how well they actually got along. I also loved their progression. Molly and Reid’s development worked perfectly with Molly’s personal development so I was very pleased (the fact that I’ve been in their type of situation multiple times made it that much more enjoyable).
An important thing to note is that this story isn’t about Molly loosing weight and then falling in love. Unlike a lot of other romances with fat heroines, loosing weight was not the end goal, nor was it the reason for her finally getting her first kiss/relationship.
Young Adult novels struggle to make teenagers feel real. However, the teenagers in The Upside of Unrequited actually felt like teenagers. They were immature at times, but honest. All their interactions were authentic and were about things that me and my friends would talk about. The relationships between the side characters were developed and organic. And, if you’ve read Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda, there’s a chance that you’ll recognize some of the faces that appear in The Upside of Unrequited.
One of the interactions that I loved between Molly and co. was when she calls out Max for implying that girls become women only after they have sex. Showing teenagers calling out their friends and other people when they say offensive things is so incredibly important. We need to normalize this, and show teenagers that you shouldn’t be afraid to call someone out on something when they make a mistake or say something that’s harmful.
I plan on reading more of Becky Albertalli’s books in the future.
If you’re a Contemporary Young Adult reader, The Upside of Unrequited is a must.
“There’s just something about this kind of moment―this tiny thread connecting me to a total stranger. It’s the kind of thing that makes the universe smaller. I really love that.”
“I don’t think she gets it. There’s a reason I’ve had twenty-six crushes and no boyfriends. 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 would matter. That’s the thing. I get into this weird place sometimes where I worry about that. I’ve never told anyone this―not even my moms, not even Cassie―but that’s the thing I’m most afraid of. Not mattering. Existing in a world that doesn’t care who I am.”
“And I can’t shake this thought: I’ve had crushes on twenty-six people, twenty-five of whom are not Lin-Manuel Miranda. Twenty-three of whom are age-appropriate, real-life viable crush-objects. Eighteen of whom were definitely single and interested in girls at the time of my crush.
And I never even tried. Not even with the ones who talked to me first.
So Maybe I should let my heart break, just to prove that my heart can take it. Or at the very least, I need to stop being so fucking careful.”