Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky AlbertalliThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 11, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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five-stars

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.

Becky Albertalli made a much deserved splash with her debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which I read and adored. I actually decided to reread Simon vs. before I read The Upside of Unrequited because, though it’s in no way necessary for enjoyment, I knew they were in the same universe and didn’t want to miss any references. For the record, I spent my whole reread with a goofy smile on my face; if anything, it was even better as a reread, but I mean it started out at five stars, so… The Upside of Unrequited somehow manages to live up to Albertalli’s debut, jam-packed with the same humor, banter, shippiness, and family feels.

Molly Peskin-Suso is a girl of many crushes. She’s “officially” crushed on 26 boys so far, with officially being defined as she told her twin sister Cassie about them and they were counted for posterity. Molly has never taken any sort of action with her crushes, partially because she’s afraid of being rejected (some bullying for being fat has made her question whether any guy could truly ever want her) and partially because tbh she’s terrified of change. I relate to Molly SO hard in this, because I also had low self-esteem, a million crushes, and would actually sometimes go out of my way to avoid the possibility of a crush turning into something.

It’s a summer of change for Molly. Obviously, she’s going to have a romantic prospect, because hello this is a romance, but she also has her first job and is dealing with the fact that Cassie has just gotten her first girlfriend. Though Molly set them up, she’s a bit afraid of losing the closeness she’s always had with her twin as a result of the changed dynamic romantic relationships bring.

I absolutely adore Molly. She’s clever and snarky and Pinteresty and she loves her family intensely and she’s fierce, though she hides that. There’s a lot Molly doesn’t necessarily show because she’s so afraid to put herself out there. I also love the parts of Molly that aren’t as positive, like the jealousy she tries not to feel but totally does feel as her friends are coupling up and having romantic experiences she worries she’ll never get to have. I, too, had times where I felt like a shitty monster of a person for being slightly unhappy that friends had boyfriends or girlfriends and I didn’t. Yes, it’s not Molly at her best but people aren’t always perfect, and this makes Molly ring so true and real. I wish I’d had this book when I was a teenager a lot like Molly. Maybe it would have made me brave enough to try to put myself out there; maybe not.

Molly and Cassie’s family is the most precious and adorable ever. You got to see some cute family dynamics in Simon vs. and I think you actually get even more family in moments in The Upside of Unrequited. Molly and Cassie’s moms, Patty and Nadine, are this badass interracial couple, and I love them. They’re so supportive and caring of their girls, though they still do the parental vaguely creepy obsessive thing that Simon called his parents out on. For the most part, they’re super lax parents but they’ll put their feet down when it’s called for. I also like the subtle, non-preachy racial politics involved in having kids who were physically part of only one of them and didn’t look like the other. And, as I said, I love the intense, fierce love they all have for one another (and that they still have fights sometimes anyway).

The one thing I can say that is remotely negative (but not really) is that if you’re a person who needs a really solid plot out of contemporaries and doesn’t see character arcs as sufficient plot, you may not be as thrilled with The Upside of Unrequited. The book does use the wedding of Molly and Cassie’s moms as a sort of frame, as they announce they’re getting married towards the beginning, plan throughout, and wed at the end, but it’s not a plot really. Molly’s character arc is the true plot, which I am 100% here for, but I know all readers aren’t the same about that.

Okay, so you guys knew that I was not going to skip the romance. Molly’s sort of having romantic changed forced on her this summer by Cassie and her girlfriend Mina. They’re determined to help find Cassie a boyfriend, partially to offset the awkwardness of needing some alone time when Cassie and Molly used to do everything together. Molly’s not on board with this plan, but Cassie’s kind of like well-intentioned steamroller, so it’s a bit unavoidable. They’re trying to set her up with Will, who would probably have been crush 27 if Cassie and Mina hadn’t been pushing for it so hard.

Meanwhile, Molly starts her first job and meets Reid, an adorable nerd. Molly doesn’t initially see him as a romantic prospect (but I do), and they become good friends quickly. It’s so cute that it happened that way, because he basically snuck in under Molly’s notice and got behind her walls. They have amazing banter and such great moments and I love the fuck out of them tbh. Also, Reid will probably win Molly over to the nerd side and yassssss.

As a brief, final note, there are several crossovers from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon himself makes a couple appearances, over text and Skype (and there is a completely adorable reference to Simon’s boyfriend). Obviously, Abby, who is Molly’s cousin (Nadine’s brother’s daughter) makes several appearances, and Nick comes along for the wedding. There’s also a surprise cameo by Carter Addison.

The Upside of Unrequited was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I honestly worried it wouldn’t live up to my massive expectations, but it so completely did. It’s another beautiful book from Becky Albertalli, and, if you loved Simon vs., you ought to love this book too.

Favorite Quote:

“Thanks for saving my labia.”

(Christina’s note: I had to.)

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

One response to “Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli”

  1. I don’t think I loved this as much as Simon but it is VERY close. It was such a wonderful book! I read it in one sitting, which I haven’t done in forever. Loved their moms, Molly’s dynamic with Cassie, REID. I didn’t even realize there wasn’t a plot (lol) because I was so wrapped up in the characters.
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