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?
This is the first Becky Albertalli book that I’ve read. And, to be honest, if I hadn’t received it in an Owlcrate box, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to it as quickly as I did. As soon as I read the synopsis I was quite excited to read this one, not only because I’ve heard really remarkable things about Becky Albertalli’s writing style, but also because it’s been a while since I’ve read a really good contemporary that I can relate to. The last one probably being Jenny Hahn’s Summer series, which I related to mostly through wistful, blissful nostalgia. The Upside of Unrequited tugged at my heart in a different way.
As a larger, big boned, chubby, fat, (insert your own adjective here) person, it’s difficult sometimes to relate to characters. Although I may relate to one aspect of a character more – like humor or wit for example – I cannot definitively say that I feel represented by that character. I know a myriad of others have talked about a similar issue, and while it’s not something that I necessarily think of Upside brought up this conversation to me. I felt an intimate connection with Molly’s character, and while I could not relate to every single aspect of Molly’s life – I’m not supposed to. Molly is her own character.
While that is true, her issues are incredibly valid and important and happened to be ones that I have dealt with. I related to Molly in a way that I have not been able to relate to a character in a long, long time. Molly and her experiences are important. Since reading Upside I’ve been reminiscing on some of the things that I remember feeling at 17 and I’ve been able to think back to that state and realize that I’ve changed a good bit since then. I related to Molly in a way that I have not been able to relate to a character in a long, long time. What I’m trying to say is that finding Molly and knowing her as the fat main character is also important. Knowing her as a fat main character with love interests is also very important.
The second theme that I could relate to in this novel was the sisterhood. As I have three vastly different sisters and unique relationships with each of them, it was nice to see the sisterly bond through multiple perspectives and generations. I loved reading about Molly and Cassie’s sisterly ups and downs, and I also really enjoyed seeing the relationship between Nadine and her sister (I can’t remember her name, whoops). I liked that the themes did not overpower the plot, but integrated themselves in a way that they were incredibly important to the plot and the characters and the novel. Everything about this seamless integration of characters, plots, and themes, was incredibly well done.
There are other themes in this book, like those that explore sexuality, sibling relationships, body image and coming of age, that are incredibly important. While I cannot directly relate to all of these themes, I feel that Albertalli has written about them in a way that makes them memorable and magical. At times, I laughed and happy-cried with characters, and I found myself invested in some of the side characters in a similar way that I was invested in Molly. Albertalli’s writing is addictive. It’s simple and complex at the same time and her word choice is magnificent. Albertalli doesn’t write her characters’ issues in a way that devalues their thoughts, and it doesn’t seem that she writes about these issues just to throw them in and meet some sort of quota. You can tell that she really cares about the issues that she writes about in this one.
Overall, I absolutely enjoyed reading The Upside of Unrequited and I can’t wait to read her debut novel: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.