The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins)
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Rating: 5 out of 5 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.
There have been a thousand reviews written about this book. One more, surely, will get lost in the crowd. But I don’t want to review The Upside of Unrequited. Instead, I want to tell you what it means to me.
I want to tell you why this book is important, to me and to hundreds (thousands) of teenagers, young adults, and adults around the world.
Through Molly’s eyes, we see a world that is accepted as-is.
Her parents are queer. Her sister is queer. Molly herself is fat. She is a virgin, she has never been kissed, she is a seventeen year old girl who is, 100%, a seventeen year old girl. And through her eyes, the world is normal. Accepted. Perfectly average.
Do you know how powerful that is? To read a book and see the word “pansexual” thrown out on page like it’s nothing to bat an eye out. Molly talks about her family, and it’s her family, mixed race and two mothers and an annoying baby brother and an even more annoying twin sister. No one bats an eye. Molly’s world is perfectly imperfect, richly diverse, and completely normal.
And Becky tells this story with such wit and charm that it’s a delight to read.
If this story had existed when I was a teenager, I can only imagine how different my life would have been. To see a fat girl who struggles to understand how sex works, who lists boys in a series of unrequited crushes. And to see queer characters populating the narrative like they belong there.
Because they do belong there.
I don’t think I can explain this book to anyone who hasn’t been where Molly is, either because of their sexuality or their appearance or their social anxiety. If you’ve never struggled to find your place in the world, then Molly’s story is just another humorous, quirky tale of chocolate mini-eggs and Pinterest weddings.
But if you’re a teenager who wants a book that truly shows the world as it is (diverse, queer, beautiful in every way), or an adult who couldn’t find that world when they were younger… well, this is a book that will fill a hole in your heart.
Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta. You can visit her online at http://www.beckyalbertalli.com.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.