The Upside of Unrequited
By Becky Albertalli
Summary: 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.
Source: I received a hardcover in April’s Owlcrate.
The Upside of Unrequited was about Molly, a girl who crushed hard and often. She had some self esteem issues that seemed mainly due to weight and had never actually had a successful relationship, start of a relationship, or anything. Her sister Cassie met Mina and became and instant puddle of goo about her for the first time Molly could remember. And for some reason, they kept trying to hook Molly up with Mina’s friend Will to finally end the stream of Molly’s unrequited crushes. And Molly began a job at a store where she met a nerdy guy named Reid who made her comfortable for the first time in a long time. She wasn’t tongue tied around him, so they became fast friends.
The book had such a great premise. A socially awkward girl with self esteem issues finally comes into her own somehow and gets the guy? I love books like that and I thought I would also enjoy getting a nice group of supportive friends and a great family in a YA book. In a lot of ways, it was perfectly quirky, upbeat, and romantic.
I loved how diverse the entire cast of characters were. Different body types, different personality types, different sexual preferences, ethnicities, religions, etc. all made an appearance in the book and it was kind of awesome to see everything fall into a story that way. I absolutely love getting characters with different backgrounds and body types and ethnicities, etc to make appearances in fiction, be main characters, and have it be so nonchalant like it’s not the main focus of the book or a big deal or anything. They just are what they are and it’s not weird or forced. The author was able to just drop a thing about a person like it’s the color of their hair and it’s so natural and I admire that. It was one of my favorite things about this book…… But the characters were little more than their own diverse aspect and that’s where I started to get a little aggravated. I felt like no one really had much more depth to them, which makes them seem a lot like “token” characters with an existence only to show off how diverse you can be as an author and that is NOT cool. The beginning introduction to Molly and her world was amazing, but I never got much more character building for most of the characters and it started to feel like there was some thing artificial about what originally seemed like such a natural type of thing.. I got this amazing group of diverse friends and family and yet none of them have real personalities? I can’t really tell you much about WHO the characters really are deep down and that’s my issue with the book. However, I’m not completely sure that it was done with the intent to just check off diverse aspects. I think perhaps the book was just not long enough and the author was trying to stay on point with Molly and not delve too deep in the side characters, which is what I hope was the case.
I also kind of had an issue with Molly’s acceptance of her self and her worth being tied so closely to her relationship and ability to finally get the guy, but I expected a love story and I think it was done in a way that worked well despite the flaws. Still, it would be nice for a girl to learn to love herself without it being tied to how much a guy likes her. Also I can’t stand when a character who has self esteem issues gets to be judgmental about image and no one bats an eyelash. It was completely not okay for her to immediately dismiss Reid in her head because he was super into Tolkien and not afraid to proclaim it by wearing a Tolkien shirt and dorky white sneakers.
I didn’t hate the book, though, because it was a fun and quick read and I liked seeing the relationship unfold and all of the drama between Molly and her sister. I loved Reid SO MUCH as a character. It should’ve been Molly who was fierce and unafraid to be herself, but it was Reid. He was aware of his “uncool” hobbies, but he did not let it bother him. He wasn’t afraid to be himself and I loved that. I think that was why I was ultimately not so bothered by Molly finding her worth through her relationship with him because I knew he came from such a good place in his heart. He genuinely liked her for who she really was and his confidence could only be a positive influence on her.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the book and got through it quickly. It isn’t a book I would’ve bought on purpose, but that doesn’t mean it was bad. I liked it. I recommend it, but would probably just recommend borrowing from the library or something.