Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Published: April 11th, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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.


Milka's Thoughts:

I loved Becky Albertalli's debut Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, so it came as a no surprise to me that I loved her follow-up The Upside of Unrequited too, but I must admit I would never have dared to believe I would love this novel THIS much.

After the brilliance of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli had big shoes to fill with her second novel. Simon has become quite of a phenomenon with awards and movie in the making, so obviously there are a lot of expectations towards Albertalli's second novel. The Upside of Unrequited is a very different kind of book, but there are the same warmth and humor present as in Simon. All in all, The Upside of Unrequited managed to usurp my expectations and make me fall in love with Albertalli's writing and characters once again.

Molly has had a crush of a lot of different guys, but she has never acted on those crushes. She feels like she does not fit in and that maybe not everyone is not meant to fall in love. Maybe there are people who will never find a person who happens to be crushing on them too. When Molly's twin Cassie meets Mina and falls head over heels in love with her, Molly is once again made to question the dynamics of relationships. Molly is happy for Cassie, but at the same time, she cannot help to feel like she is missing on something.

This is one of those books I really wish I would have had in my life when I was a teenager. Though Molly and I are very different, we also share a lot of things. I am also a fat girl and I was always the one watching from the sidelines while my friends had relationships. But while I never really wanted a boyfriend, Molly wants one. And that is completely okay! When Cassie and Mina get it to their minds that Molly should hook up with Will, one of Mina's friends, Molly starts to get hopeful. Could the kind of flirty, ridiculously attractive hipster guy see something in her? And more importantly, could she see something in him. While Will seems like a viable option, Molly also starts to get more and more into spending time with Reid, her co-worker, who seems like totally not her type, but who also is someone Molly cannot stop thinking about.

Reid is pretty much perfection and I loved the moments between him and Molly. But while I am a huge fan of romantic storylines, what really made me fall in love with The Upside of Unrequited are the family dynamics the novel portrays. The relationship between Molly and Cassie is loving, but also complicated and not always exactly what they want it to be. I loved the scenes with Molly, Cassie and their mothers Patty and Nadine, and I now feel like Albertalli should totally right a book about how Patty and Nadine fell in love.

I am not Jewish and know very little about the Jewish culture, but I can only imagine how important a book like this is for the young (and older) Jewish girls out there who must see themselves very rarely portrayed in books like this.

Representation of fat bodies is always problematic and way too often hurtful. Luckily, Albertalli approaches the topic with grace and is able to create a character with thoughts that I, a fat girl myself, was able to relate with. The struggle Molly goes through with her body from time to time and the thoughts she has where something teenage-me definitely also had. I was happy to see that at the end of the day, Molly's body really has nothing to do with her capability to find happiness -- she does not have to change her body to be accepted, but rather just has to find a way to see that she is gorgeous and worthy of good things just as she is.

I really loved this book and I cannot wait to see what Albertalli comes up with next!

Five snowflakes