I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 11th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
Source: the Publisher
Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Book Depository
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.
Oh man. This book was everything I had hoped it would be. I wish I could say I went into it without any expectations but when a previous book by the author is one of your favorites, that’s pretty much impossible. I lied to myself anyway, though, and picked up the book excitedly and tore right into it all along pretending that it would be okay if I didn’t love it like I loved Simon. Because on some level I know that all books are different. And I’ve certainly had authors who’ve had books that I’ve loved and not loved. But there was just something special about Simon and I was so hopeful that Becky could capture that again in her sophomore release. And I’m so happy to be able to say that yes, she did!
I have to start off by talking about Molly, the main character. She was so real and relatable and I felt so connected to her and what she was going through. I obviously can’t speak for how anyone else was feeling in high school but I most definitely felt like Molly. I felt like everyone I knew was in a relationship, everyone else was kissing someone, I was the only one who knew nothing and was super awkward, and while it seemed so easy for everyone else to find a boyfriend or girlfriend and just talk to people they had crushes on, I never could. And Molly made it clear that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. I also called myself a “late bloomer” since I hadn’t kissing anyone until senior year of high school. And that can be a lonely place. Especially when you’re close friends keep finding new boyfriends. It’s easy to slip into the place where you feel like you won’t ever find anyone who likes you and that for whatever reason, you’re just unlikable, unkissable, un-everything. I hated that feeling in high school and while I didn’t particularly enjoy experiencing it again through Molly, it was nice realizing I probably wasn’t the only one who felt like that.
But besides that, she’s smart and creative and interesting and just so seventeen. Plus, she has a twin. And as a twin myself, I love reading about them! Cassie is very different from Molly and their relationship also felt very real. They go through ups and downs and their arguments were difficult and dramatic but so honest. They make up in time, of course, but their problems that stem from their differences and the things they say when they’re mad and everything that follows, including the make up, didn’t feel forced or awkward or like an adult was writing what they thought teens needed to hear. Their dialogue was just teen sisters and friends talking to each other. Not dumbed down, not lesson heavy, just real. And I really appreciated that.
The other thing I really loved about this one, and Simon, was that the parents in this book were so present and so supportive and seemed like parents you might actually want for yourself. They obviously loved their kids and their family and knew what was going on with their kids and I love that there are parents like that in YA.
This book also addresses teen sex pretty openly. Which was definitely refreshing. It’s not like there’s sex happening everywhere but the teens discuss it, some are having it, some want to have it, and some are waiting. I love that all of these viewpoints are present in the book. Especially when the characters are female and there is no slut-shaming or bad feelings towards any of them when they mention they want sex or that it feels good or they don’t want it. There’s also talk about condoms and birth control and topics that don’t always get directly talked about in books in a positive way. And I think it’s so great when they can be addressed directly and we can see teens and parents talking about these topics. Because sex and curiosity is just a fact of being a teenager. And that all may seem like a small thing, but having positive feelings towards sex represented in a book for teens, especially females, and having positive communications with parents as well?! That will leave a good impression with teens. I can’t remember reading anything with messages like that when I was younger.
Overall, if you couldn’t tell, I really loved this book. The writing and characters took me right back to those feelings of crushes and hope and first kisses but also rejection and loneliness and sadness that comes on both sides of new crushes and early relationships. And Molly was a fantastic MC and deals with so many things in this book from crushes and rejection to being the fat twin and feeling left behind and all alone. But I loved seeing her go through everything she went through and come out on the other side with a better understanding of herself and life and what she wants out of it. I loved seeing her supportive parents and watching the relationship ups and downs with her twin. I loved the representations present in this book and how normal it all seemed. I want that in more books. And ultimately, I loved that this book was so cute and unputdownable. I hope that if you guys loved Simon, you’ll pick up this book too. And if you haven’t read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiends Agenda, that you’ll give both of the books a try! I loved these and cannot wait for more from Becky Albertalli!