Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - Book Review

When I started blogging and making videos on Youtube, I knew that I would probably start adding more YA books to my TBR- and I was definitely not mad about it- but I maybe wasn't that excited either? YA lit is, not exaggerating,*everywhere* in the online book community! Generally, I don't tend to enjoy YA( sorry)- which is a bummer. I'll hear about a YA book and think- wow, the premise sounds great - but once I am actually reading the book- the voice of the narrator, or the YA tropes, or the fact that I am a middle-aged woman, hits me, and I don't end up enjoying the book. "The Upside of Unrequited" is one of the few YA books I have read recently that defied those terrible odds. Keep reading to see what I loved so much about "The Upside of Unrequited" by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited
by Becky Albertalli

goodreads // amazon // library

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because 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. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And 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 an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?


Real, genuine characters and relationships

Overall, this book left me very impressed with its author, Becky Albertalli. All of the characters in "The Upside of Unrequited" felt very well formed, particularly the main character, Molly. The parents might've taken a bit of a backseat, but that also makes sense for the story. The world building is so important even outside of fantasy, and their "Unrequited" world felt real and full. I related to Molly hard - particularly because of how awkward she gets when other people are talking about sex and intimacy. That is so me! I loved her and I really rooted for her reading this book. I just so wanted everything to work out for her and I felt fully invested in that happening. "The Upside" also avoids a lot of problematic tropes - one in particular that gets to me is when the main characters have no idea that someone is attracted to them, even when it is blindingly annoyingly obvious to us the reader. Molly, thankfully, knows when she likes someone and voices when she thinks someone might like her back - even when she is wrong. The book also had a very natural relationship progression which was great to see! Many kudos to Albertalli for depicting such a relatable and well-formed character and world!

Excellent life lessons

Reading this book I couldn't help thinking, please let this character learn the life lessons that I think she is going to, and that she so needs to learn! And she did! "The Upside" illustrates all of the downfalls of forced high school relationships of convenience ( they are so a no go). Throughout "The Upside of Unrequited", Molly also learns that her value as a person and friend isn't related to any base or relationship milestones.

I was also really intrigued by a smaller subplot in the book. Molly is made fun of in middle school in the cafeteria. While it sounds like a fairly small and isolated incident, it is clear that it had a large impact on her and her self-esteem. I loved how the author showed that even an isolated, cruel incident could have a lasting impact on someone who has an otherwise pleasant life.

"The Upside" really highlighted for me, just how much deciding that having a boyfriend is priority number one, and letting that become an obsession, affects the main characters life and her relationships. On the one hand it was funny to read about Molly's multitude of crushes- many of whom are literally just people who were nice to her!  This kind of played off of the insta- love that is so frequent in YA novels, and I really enjoyed how the author played that out.

Holy diversity, batman

I lost count when I was reading "The Upside" of the number of different types of diverse characters portrayed in this book. but off the top of my head - Molly has an underrepresented body type, Cassie is a lesbian, however, her girlfriend is bisexual, Molly and Cassie's mothers adopted Molly and Cassie as embryo's, and one of their adopted mothers is black - whew. And I swear that's not it. There is way more, it was genuinely just hard to keep track of - and maybe a little overwhelming. While I do not think that the author introduced these characters in a disingenuous or pandering manner - I could sometimes feel it teetering there for me as a reader, or at least the book made me wonder where I would draw that line. What are your thoughts on that, reader?

Things I Struggled With

I really struggled with reading the character of Molly's sister, Cassie, and her girlfriend. I just found them to be really shallow and annoying characters. Real, well-drawn characters, but annoying ones that say really short-sided and small-minded things. The most annoying of which was when Mina, Cassie's girlfriend, describes a guy as someone who you marry, but not date, or have sex with. And while I understand what Mina is suggesting - her wording was really frustrating for me as a married woman. Um what exactly do you think marriage is and what do married people do together? Blerg!

Have you read "The Upside of Unrequited"? Let me know what you thought of the book below! Thinking about reading this book? Click here to find the book at a local library or click below to view the book on Amazon.


  1. I really like this book. I like the diversity and the themes it explores. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. I think I had an ARC of this but traded it for something else. I still can't decide if I'll get to it. Your review is good though! Thanks for sharing!


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