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?
The Upside of Unrequited was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, which means that I had very high expectations of it. Would it be as amazing as Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda? Would Becky Albertalli be able to pull of another sensational YA novel? All those questions were soon answered. I fell right into the story, falling harder for the characters and the adorable romance and the important, powerful messages. I didn’t think Becky would be able to write something that could compete for my love of Simon vs, but I was wrong. I absolutely loved this book.
One of the things I loved most about The Upside of Unrequited was the messages about body positivity. I’ve read a few other books with this element, such as Dumplin’ and Queens of Geek, but for anyone looking for another positive, empowering read, I can’t recommend The Upside of Unrequited enough. Our protagonist, Molly, is fat, and unlike many other YA characters, she doesn’t struggle with her weight or want to change the way she looks. She’s happy with the way she is, because food makes her happy, and she knows she doesn’t have to change herself just because society can be fatphobic. Her self-assuredness was inspiring, and I already know this book will be so beneficial for so many young adults. And plus, I loved all the talk about mini chocolate eggs.
Absent parents are usually commonplace in YA, but I was so happy to find that this wasn’t the case in The Upside of Unrequited. Molly’s mums were so sweet and supportive, and I’m so happy that they played a major role in the narrative. Getting to know them and seeing the part they played in the story was so heartwarming, and I’m just so pleased that more YA is becoming diverse not just in terms of sexuality and identity of the protagonists, but also of their parents and their friends. This book radiated queer love, and it made my heart sing. I just wanted to hug all these adorable little munchkins and attend their weddings.
All the characters in this book were adorable and nerdy and just so lovely to get to know. Molly was the type of character that I feel like everyone could relate to in one way or another. She’s had a ton of unrequited crushes and she feels like everyone’s growing up while she’s stuck at a stand still. Those feelings of awkwardness and life being overwhelming is something that I could really connect to, and that’s what made her a character who will stay with me for a long time to come. It was also fantastic to see that Molly had anxiety and took medication for it, but it wasn’t something that defined her or overshadowed every other part of her. We need more characters like Molly in YA. A person’s ‘diverse factor’ shouldn’t be the one thing they’re known for, and Becky Albertalli did an amazing job at creating such unique, genuine characters.
Not only was Molly a really genuine young person, I felt as though all the elements of this novel were incredibly realistic. Teens drink and talk about sex and lie to their parents, and we got to see all of that. Nothing is censored in this book and nothing is left out. It’s just a pure, unabridged story about a group of teenagers and their struggles and triumphs. In that way, The Upside of Unrequited will speak to all teens, or anyone who’s ever been a teen. The mishaps and relationships alike never felt forced, and it was refreshing to find a book that didn’t gloss over the grittier aspects of being a teenager. I couldn’t have wished for a more realistic read with well-rounded characters.
Overall, The Upside of Unrequited was an adorable and touching read with realistic, unique characters and a genuine portrayal of teenage life. If you’re a fan of contemporary or are looking for another diverse book to add to your TBR, I highly recommend checking out this one!
Have you read The Upside of Unrequited yet? What are some YA novels you’ve read with great body positivity? Did you find Molly a relatable character? Did this book, or Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda with the Oreos make you hungry? I’d love to know!
Thanks to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!