The Upside Of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli
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?
Review: Guys, I’m trying with romance. I promise I’m really trying.
But, if I see one more sentence about Reid’s “flickering dimple,” I swear I’m going to reach through the book and rip that freakin’ dimple off that boy’s face.
I read Becky Albertalli’s other book, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, back when it first came out. I was pleasantly shocked by it because it didn’t sound like my type of book at all. It sounded fluffy and romancey. It was fluffy and romancey, but it was also funny and mysterious. When The Upside of Unrequited came out, I decided to give it a shot, even though it doesn’t seem like my kind of book.
The narrator, Molly, is an overweight teenager who has had 26 crushes and no boyfriends. She’s too afraid of rejection to let her crushes know how she feels. To remedy this, Molly’s twin sister and their friends try to set Molly up with Will, a cute hipster boy. Will seems like Molly’s perfect guy. He’s cute, and nice, and fun. In the midst of Molly’s Will infatuation, she starts a new job and meets Reid. Reid isn’t Molly’s type. He’s geeky and obsessed with Queen Elizabeth. As Molly gets to know Reid, she discovers that there’s more to him than Tolkien T-shirts and ugly sneakers.
First, I was so happy when I learned that the narrator is a fat girl. I’ve struggled with my weight since middle school. I’ve been fat. I’ve been average. I’ve been very close to a perfect size 0. I’ve been everything in between. I think my massive weight changes are a side effect of loving pizza. And having depression. And taking depression medicine. But mostly pizza. Molly is a relatable character for me because I was the fat girl in high school. Many of the thoughts that Molly has are the same ones I had as a teenager.
I know that it’s politically incorrect to say that you hate being fat, but . . . I hate being fat. I guess that body positivity stuff doesn’t work on me. When I’m overweight, I don’t like the way I feel or look. As a teenager, I was hugely self-conscious, so I completely understand Molly’s insecurities about her body.
“Even if he likes me, I’m not sure he’d like me naked. I hate that I’m even thinking that. I hate hating my body. Actually, I don’t even hate my body. I just worry everyone else might. Because chubby girls don’t get boyfriends, and they definitely don’t have sex. Not in movies—not really—unless it’s supposed to be a joke. And I don’t want to be a joke.” – The Upside of Unrequited
The messages in this novel are great. They’re things that teenage-me desperately needed to hear. You don’t have to change your body to be worthy of love. Everybody deserves love, no matter what they look like.
The author does a nice job of capturing the concerns of a teenage girl. I actually laughed at this part because I had this exact conversation about body hair with my friend in high school:
“It's not that bikini waxing is a foreign concept to me, but . . . I mean, I guess it kind of is. Like, it's one of those girl habits that's so far beyond me, it makes me feel like a different species. Do boys require hairless vaginas? Is this a known thing?” – The Upside of Unrequited
I love Molly, but I had a hard time staying interested in this book. This is definitely a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” I’ve just never been interested in romance, and this story is all romance. Molly is boy-obsessed. Her moms are getting married. Her sister and cousin are in new relationships. Her friend just ended a relationship. This book is basically 300+ pages of relationship overload. I had a difficult time making myself care. I guess I prefer books where the relationships are a subplot instead of the whole story.
If you’ve ever been fat, you might be able to relate to Molly, but if you don’t like romance, you’ll probably want to stay away from this book. Try Simon Vs. instead. There’s romance in that book, but there’s also an intriguing internet mystery.