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?
I started reading this book on 06/13/2017 and I finished it on 06/18/2017. if I had a whole day to myself though, I could have read it one sitting! Oh, how do I ever start to explain how amazing this book is?! The Upside of Unrequited is truly a one of a kind contemporary novel. The story revolving the protagonist and the supporting characters is very authentic to the lives of most teenagers today. I also loved the fact that love is not romanticized – It’s quirky, imperfect, painful, confusing, frustrating and yet so beautiful. This book surely got me out of my reading slump!
It’s surprising that almost 35% of teenagers are overweight and yet it’s rarely mentioned in YA literature. Having a fat girl as a protagonist gave me an insight into the thoughts and emotions of this character. Another thing which makes this novel unique is how you can relate to the characters despite the fact that they are so diverse. Despite the heterogeneity in race and sexual identity, I could connect to Molly. Also, even though things felt perfect at the end, this novel shows maturity in the sense that it isn’t necessarily a happily ever after.
“I’m not trying to overthink things. I’m trying to be less careful. But you have to be your heart’s own goalie.”
The writing just flowed throughout the novel and was very easy to read and get into. It was also very raw and since it was written in the first person, none of Molly’s thoughts seemed indirect or filtered. Another thing I appreciated in this novel is that there was a clear balance of the funny and sad parts. This book isn’t a light and fluffy contemporary, it’s dark and sad, but what made it not so dark and sad at times were the elements of humor in it. Molly’s sarcasm is enjoyable and I also smiled at the inclusion of texts and emojis. It made it seem very “teenagery” and something all of us can relate to.
“I get into this weird place sometimes where I worry about that. I’ve never told anyone this – not my moms, not Cassie – but that’s the thing I’m most afraid of. Not mattering. Existing in a world that doesn’t care who I am.”
What I really liked about all the characters is none of them are even a little closer to perfect. It may seem at times that some characters are better off than others, but honestly, all of their lives are pretty
f*cked (all that swearing in the novel is getting to me haha) messed up. Take our protagonist Molly; yes, she’s fat, but there’s more. Molly’s this amazing, funny, sarcastic, artistic, caring and talented person, but she’s also awkward, shy, insecure, and ashamed about her body type. She doesn’t think she can ever be loved and truly believes that there’s isn’t even the slightest possibility. What about Cassie? She’s this badass, hot and carefree teen who makes out with different girls at every single party; but she falls in love. She’s new to this feeling and she becomes unsure and scared for the first time. She doesn’t know how to balance the relationship with her sister and girlfriend. Although Cassie is gay and Molly is straight, they both deal with the problems of falling in love for the first time.
I also loved the importance of family and how they are integral to the characters’ lives in the story, because the involvement of parents is not that common in YA. The whole concept of family and friends (apart from boyfriends/girlfriends) added a new dimension to the story.
“I don’t feel like doing anything. I don’t even know what I need right now. I just want to feel normal.”
In whole, The Upside of Unrequited was a raw, heartfelt, relatable and touching novel. The message, or should I say, messages were beautiful. I wanted to write about that too, but I figured that it was something that should be read and analyzed by yourself and my saying it here would make the experience less personal. Reading this book was one of the best things that happened to me! I rate it 5 stars!
Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. She is a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children and teens. Becky now lives with her family in Atlanta, where she spends her days writing fiction for young adults. You can visit her online at www.beckyalbertalli.com.
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Thanks for reading!