Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: April 11th, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★/ 5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary YA
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.
“Here’s the truth: I want this so badly. To the point where it’s almost physically painful sometimes.”
DING DING DING Becky Albertalli WINS, the whole world is not surprised, this amazing kind woman has done it again! And by ‘it’ I mean wrote such an entertaining, heart-felt, hella cute, and wholesome book.
I’m sorry everyone who is following me on twitter but this is going to be the only thing I’m going to be talking about for the foreseeable future. How can I not when I just spent the last twelve hours being so wholly enamored by this book? If there was a way in which I could live inside a book, I’d get into TUoU. I’d live in their god damn backyard for all I care for.
Let’s get to the actual review, shall we?
First of all, this is one of my most anticipated books of 2017. I’m sorry this isn’t the pinnacle of diversity but I can’t help it: I love Becky so much and just the thought of this book made my heart explode with excitement when I found out about it. What made me even more interested was when I saw that Molly is plus-size. Having a fat main character in YA whose story does not center on her losing weight? I threw a goddamn party.
My number one thought is: I’m never going to stop crying over how perfect this book is.
Let’s talk about how body-positive this is. (Please take in mind that all of this applies only to me, who is also plus-size. I don’t need to prove this but I think that at 109kg, I count as fat.)
Molly (the only girl I want to cry over ever again, Nina Zenik is shook) is seventeen and is fully aware that she’s fat. She is so aware that sometimes she just doesn’t want people to actually notice it.
…I guess I want to believe no one notices I’m fat. Or that I’m somehow pretty and fat all at once…
This up here is a thought I’ve had so many times in my life that to see it actually uttered by Molly’s brain? It made me sob. I am not kidding, I was this emotional. To think that there is someone out there who feels the same way I do? Astonishing. Representation fucking matters and for five years I’ve tried to read books with girls who weren’t your usual size 8 and I couldn’t help but always feel like I couldn’t understand them fully. Until Nina happened. But Molly was different. Molly is exactly how I felt at 17. At that age where my small friends got attention from guys and I didn’t. Where they talked about touching and I couldn’t bear to take anything seriously.
There is this bit where Molly’s Grandma kind of picks on her weight and everyone stands up for Molly. I liked that but I loved it even more when Molly herself stood up for herself when a rude guy said something along the lines of “you’re gorgeous for a big girl.” I was so angry that when she said “fuck you,” I cried. I’ve gotten my good share of “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful” comments so I totally felt enraged when fat girls’ beauty had to be something that they had DESPITE their weight. As if.
If someone says I’m sad, or asks me what’s wrong, or tells me not to cry, it’s like my body hears: NOW CRY. Like a command, even if I’m not actually sad. But maybe there are always tiny sad pieces inside me, waiting to be recognized and named.
Another aspect of Molly’s character that I loved was the honest depiction of mental illness. She had anxiety. She was on medication. But that didn’t mean that she was totally fine. She had her moments where control felt like a feeble thing and I could feel my bones ache in relation. I felt her sadness so intensely because I’ve always felt this sort of loneliness. I loved how honest Molly’s depiction of anxiety and sadness was. Her insecurity made her so strong and real in my eyes. She lived on the page so vividly that I wished I could reach in and hug her.
And I don’t know why I’m suddenly so breathless. I guess lungs are giant traitors. As are stomachs. As are heartbeats.
I loved how her body reacted to things. It reminded me so much of my own body. Whether it was a happy thing or a bad thing, she still felt this incredible energy in her body that always kept her on edge. For me, that was such an incredible addition to Molly’s character. I don’t know if I’m explaining this right but I’ve never read someone’s point of view that made them feel so vivid to me and so relatable. I’ve never told anyone about how anxiety made me feel but reading Molly’s point of view helped me put things into perspective.
Zoning out feels good. I just need to step outside myself for a minute. I feel so crowded in my head. I can’t seem to shake this perpetual awareness of being Molly.
If Molly is one thing, she’s honest. She’s so aware of how she is that I was so happy whenever she acted in a way that she herself didn’t approve of and then apologized about it, first to herself then to the other person.
ALSO: MOLLY PESKIN-SUSO IS FUCKING HILARIOUS? I was chuckling so much at her wittiness. She sounded like an honestly fun gal to be around and don’t get me started on how adorable she was around Reid.
Now we all know that Reid is absolutely perfect. He’s this nerdy boy who also happens to be plus-size. I honestly can’t remember reading a book where the Love Interest was a fat boy besides Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Actually, that’s my favorite character Rowell wrote (sadly, I still like that book) and Reid felt so much like Lincoln minus the creepy parts that Rowell added. Anyway! REID REID REID REID REID. I can’t stop smiling because of this boy who’s so gentle, funny, smart, and hella adorable. Molly and Reid fit together so well that I worried I’ll never like another het relationship like I like them together. Sobs.
There is a bigger plot here about Molly and her sister Cassie and how they’re growing somewhat apart due to… life. Cassie gets a girlfriend and Molly gets the feeling that she’s being replaced and while she hurts a lot she still remains a pretty good sister. Even Cassie, for all of her somewhat hard edges, she’s a total softie. I loved that they didn’t let arguments get in the way of their sisterhood. they were 100 percent supportive of one another and it was so good to see such a great sisters in this book.
Another great thing Becky did was give Molly awesome friends who she could totally rely on. I honestly loved Abby in this book so much. We saw so much of how she was before she moved to Georgia and that was so refreshing. Plus: Nick? From Molly’s point of view? Adorable. SIMON? I SCREAMED. I SWEAR.
I wanted to focus on Molly a lot in writing this review but I’ll branch about other things in a “brief” manner:
- Moms are really cute and I loved the mention of assholes who had an issue with the biracial family. Xander is the cutest baby wow.
- The fact that all female characters are so powerful and left a great impact. They were so soft and not one did something to annoy me (besides Grandma Betty and Aunt Karen)
- The way guys like Will and Max were shut down about their gross comments concerning how sex is done was absolutely excellent. I friggin hooted at that moments.
- How Cassie was so loyal and vehemently protective of girls and would not allow any guy to talk shit ever. I just felt immense joy whenever she got pissed at a disgusting dude.
- Reid Wertheim. Nothing new here. Just wanted to write his name.
Anyway, this is it, I don’t know what else I can write that can convey how much I loved this book besides literally yelling into a camera.
Small note: This isn’t Simon VS and I really don’t approve of any comparing. Both books are excellent books and I loved them both. (I love this one 1 percent more because I’m a fat girl who is happy that another fat girl gets a great ending.)