I finished this book at 2am on Tuesday morning with a warm heart and a wet face. I thought about whether it was a good idea to have read this on a night when I had university at 9am.
Turns out I didn’t really care. I have no regrets. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli was absolutely brilliant.
Let’s talk about Molly Peskin-Suso.
Our main character is Molly, a chubby 17-year-old with a fraternal twin and two mums. She’s never had a boyfriend, never been kissed and has had a long ass list of crushes (26, I should add). When her twin, Cassie, falls in love, Molly finds herself in a situation where her other half is slowly orbiting around someone else and she is feeling alone. As any good sister would, Cassie is determined to hook Molly up with her girlfriend’s best friend, Will; but Molly’s new job at a Pinterest perfect store has her thinking about her geeky coworker, Reid. Molly’s inward struggle between following her sister’s guidance and what she’s feeling in her chest is a painfully accurate representation of relationships, rejection and being seventeen.
The coming-of-age elements within this novel are so realistic.
I liked the way Becky explains Molly’s thought process behind the crushes, capturing the fleeting yet exciting feeling perfectly. I also loved how Molly’s weight didn’t define her story (because why should it?), but it was brought up in fleeting moments when Molly’s insecurity was strong. It resonated with me so much, taking me back to a time in high school when I was worried about not being kissed and my body. Did people not like my body? Was I wrong to like mine? A lot of old memories bubbled up as Molly’s character developed into a more confident and thoughtful individual. Her story was so relatable – from needing to feel rejected, to being confident in your own skin, to feeling confused while everyone is moving on without her. I also liked the representation of anxiety in Molly, especially in regards to medication. There was never a moment when Molly was made to feel inferior because of her condition.
The diversity is absolutely lovely.
The representation in this is amazing. There are so many queer and POCs and explanations on various sexualities, rounding the story into something unique and lovely. I loved Molly’s two mums, how her relationship with them was positive and open, the unconventional family dynamics that totally worked, and the bonds between the family members (including cousins and aunts). The relationships within the novel are realistic, hilarious and beautiful, especially Molly and Cassie’s sisterhood as it explores the bittersweet process of growing apart and losing that sibling closeness. I also loved the fact Molly is Jewish (because since when have I read a book with a Jewish protagonist?).
The writing is brilliant!
I adore the dialogue between the characters. It is so realistic and relatable. I also couldn’t take my eyes off the page. I devoured this book so easily because of the excellent writing.
The romances are so sweet and cute, I couldn’t handle it.
Cassie and Mina: Too cute that I was blushing. I loved how easily they complemented each other.
Molly and Reid: Um, they bond over cookie dough and Cadbury Mini Eggs. How is that not true love? I also liked their honesty with each other, and the subtle drops of adorable geeky things.
Nadine and Patty: Molly and Cassie’s mums have such a brilliant relationship. I loved their compassion, honesty and love for compound swear words.
This is the cutest contemporary YA novel I’ve read so far. Extremely diverse and geeky, it accurately represents what it’s like to be seventeen and afraid of the world, but also the excitement in growing up and being confident. The romantic elements were so cute and I loved the emphasis on family.