Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Monday, July 3, 2017

Rating: 3.75 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.


Ultimately this is a sweet book, although I do have some thoughts to sort out so lets go.

  • Seeing as this is a Diversity blog I liked all of the diversity. The main character had two moms (woot), one mom was white and one was black (double woot), and the main characters sister was also gay (triple woot). 
  • Molly was a pretty realistic character, she had realistic flaws, goals and aspirations, and lots of questions that she didn't how know to ask. 
  • Molly had so many questions about sex and kissing. I had all of these questions too. I didn't kiss anyone until college, and I didn't date anyone or have my own sexual experience until after college, so I get it. I can relate.
  • I'll never be able to draw from a normal sister/sister relationship. My sister and I are 12 years apart. It'll just never happen. But I liked that there were elements of family relationships in this story and that Molly's moms were very present. 
  • Molly seemed to like herself for who she was, or at least she didn't try to actively change herself which was beautiful to see.
  • I liked that by the end of the book (SMALL SPOILERS?? But I don't really think so) Molly realized that her relationship with her sister might change as they get older but that's okay.
  • I thought Molly was a little too much. It's hard to explain, but she has too many... things. She was plus size (cool), she had a super outgoing sister and felt a little overshadowed (cool), she had a best friend who was drop dead gorgeous (okay), she had a cousin who was drop dead gorgeous (also cool), she was almost absolutely incapable of talking to boys she had a crush on (sure why not), she has anxiety that required medication (yup coookay). On their own, or even in groups of two or three, I'm fine with these character traits, but this was too much. I felt like the author kept piling (for lack of a better term) "issues" on this character. I'm not denying that one person can't have this many "issues" (ugh I hate that term but it's all I've got), but it just felt like a lot. 
  • So, while this is clearly suppose to be a book about Molly's relationship with her sister and herslef, it felt like it leaned just a smidge too much toward "everyone else has a boyfriend except for me so I'm sad, but now I have a boyfriend and I understand all of the things." I don't think I was suppose to feel that way, in fact, I think I was suppose to feel the exact opposite. It could be my fault. I was feeling a lot of personal feelings the week I read that book and didn't really have a lot of sympathy for anyone. Sorry.
I promise, I really did like this book. It was cute and sweet, as a super late bloomer I understood how it felt to watch everyone around you create these relationships and not understand why no one wanted them from you. I felt all of Molly's pain.

Because this is a diversity blog, let me also say, that growing up in a majority white town, I wondered if my dark skin and hair that didn't blow in the wind had something to do with it my lack of romantic relationships, in college actually, someone told me that was exactly why they didn't want to date me, so in defense of this book, I think some of those issues bled into how I was feeling while reading it. (THIS IS PROBABLY ANOTHER SMALL SPOILER) I think I would have liked this book better if Molly hadn't ended up with a boyfriend and was okay with it. The fact that Molly only learns to speak up for herself and fix her relationship with her sister, and comes to these revelations about life after she and the boy become an item... while it's probably a true representation, I wasn't a huge fan.

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