Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Published by: Puffin
Publication date: 11th April 2017
Pages: 336, paperback
Genre: YA, romance, contemporary, LGBTQ+
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, 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, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
Having loved Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this was one of my most anticipated books of this year. Since the release of this book, I have heard so many amazing things, particularly to do with the outstanding representation in this book. I bought my copy a few months ago, and now I have finally managed to read it!
Just as I heard, there is so much diversity in this book, which is absolutely fantastic; for example, Molly herself is Jewish, she has two moms, her sister is dating a girl, and there are multiple side characters who are LGBTQ+ and ethnic minorities. Throughout the book, these characters and their relationships are displayed are developed beautifully, and never called into question – something which is very important in YA literature.
Speaking of relationships, the ones in this book were wonderful! Molly and Cassie had their ups and downs, but in the end they had a great understanding of one another and I loved their bond as sisters. I also really enjoyed how close their family was, as often the parent-child relationships are left undeveloped in YA – family was shown to be one of the most important things in this book. I thought Molly and Reid had an adorable relationship, and I was glad that Molly wasn’t in denial too long before realising she had feelings for him; their progression from friends to something more seemed very natural, and I really rooted for them the entire way through. As for Will: although he and Molly did not have as much of a spark, it still felt like a very realistic relationship, showing all of the awkwardness and thrill of a crush.
Molly is the most relatable character I have ever read – to the point where I had to pause my reading on a few occasions to process how relatable it was. I thought she was a really realistic character – the book touches upon the idea that you can acknowledge that you don’t need to be with someone, whilst still wanting to be with someone. This was very true of Molly, and I think gives out a message that I see rarely in YA.
I thought she had a really great character arc, and I loved seeing her confidence grow throughout the book. The only thing, in my opinion, that could have improved it would have been if Molly’s low body confidence had been addressed more. At the start of the book especially, Molly seemed to blame her lack of a love life on her size, however this just seems to fall away once she starts receiving male attention. It is addressed slightly at the end of the book, but I feel that if that was going to be an insecurity of hers, it needed to be touched upon in a more conclusive way.
I sped through The Upside of Unrequited in two days – it was adorable and fun, whilst still containing so many important messages and themes. This is a wonderful new addition to YA, which definitely deserves the hype surrounding it, and I can’t wait to see what Becky Albertalli does next!