by Becky Albertalli
Published on April 11, 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
This book needs to be required reading for everyone, though I think teens especially.
It’s weird, we talk about representation in the book community in regards to certain groups of people but you know what I don’t see as much of? Good rep of teens. Just… teens. I read a LOT of young adult fiction and it hasn’t been that long since I was a teenager, but this book just captured the experience SO WELL.
I want to preface the rest of this review by stating that I am not a part of a minority group and am not a good judge of whether something would be considered “good” rep or not. My comments on this book are from my personal experiences and observations.
Okay, so this is hard. I’m not really sure where to start with The Upside of Unrequited so let’s get a little personal. When I was in high school, I was the awkward weird kid who only had a couple friends through the years. I was called “fat” by peers and family (regardless of whether I really was or not). I wasn’t happy. I crushed on one person after another, anyone who was nice to me, who showed me a small amount of attention. I was constantly afraid of putting myself out there. I had a friend who started dating before me and we ended up drifting apart because of it. And I had no idea how to handle dating in any capacity myself.
I’m not that person anymore but reading The Upside of Unrequited brought up a LOT of feels. Like serious emotion time. This book is just so…. raw. Real. Honest. True. Every part of it sang with soul and feeling. This isn’t a story about an event, about a plot filled with tension and turmoil. TUoU is about the characters, the people. It rings with the depth you get from someone who’s been your best friend forever. You know all the ins and outs of their life, how they think, that intimacy that I’ve never seen in any other book I’ve read before.
I spent 3 hours binge-reading the crap out of this book, rarely putting it down except when the cats became extra insistent on attention. Each page spoke to me.
Molly is wonderful. She’s a character that has a little of everything going on that I think every reader can relate to. She struggles with her body image but also has come to a place of acceptance. She’s artsy and likes cookie dough (though not as much as Reid) and has a love so strong for her sister that it hurts it’s so beautiful.
There’s such a strong message about family, with Molly and her sister Cassie, their relationship with their moms, and even with Reid and his parents at the store.
Also, can I just take a moment and say that Reid is bae. His texts on their own had me giggling incessantly and I need a Reid in my life. Plus, I love Game of Thrones and Tolkien. This could work.
Gods, this book.
Not only does Albertalli capture life as a seventeen-year-old, but she does so with a story featuring an amazingly diverse cast. Sometimes I feel as if authors have this idea that they have to include ALL the diversity because they’re expected to and it reads forced and not thought out. To those writers I say, “read this book.”
I feel like I should also mention that I almost always hate contemporaries. It’s not my genre. There were two exceptions before this book: Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis. The Upside of Unrequited blew both of those out of the water. Truly amazing.
You won’t find a dense, heavy read here. There is so much thought and feeling packed into this lighthearted book that has such an important message about life. I wish I had this book when I was a teen.
This book is SO HARD to talk about because it’s all gush and love and everything was perfect. A must-buy (both the book and anything else by this amazing author) for everyone regardless of what you like to read. I don’t care. Get this book on your shelf!