Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQ
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
First Published: April 11, 2017
First Line: "I'm on the toilet at the 9:30 Club, and wondering how mermaids pee."

Book Description from GoodReadsSeventeen-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?



My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: The Upside of Unrequited focuses on teenage Molly who feels that she's constantly struggling not be left behind by her twin sister and friends when it comes to the teenage experience. Not all teens sail through those years unscathed and it was refreshing to see how her anxiety and insecurity wasn't handled by those around her with derision or shame. Molly is how she is and they accept her but encourage her to step out and try new things.

The story itself is simple and focused on the relationships, which ranged from quirky and humourous to compelling and heartwarming. Molly is blessed with a good support system of friends, co-workers and family who are a lovely and diverse bunch in terms of race, age and sexual orientation. 

I loved that LGBTQ relationships aren't highlighted for their uniqueness but because they represent many friends and families out there. Albertalli shows a regular ol' family who just happens to have two moms and these moms aren't relegated to the far reaches of the story but are an important support system for their kids. How unique! Molly's relationships with her moms, outspoken grandma and twin sister were wonderfully complicated and I think that Albertalli handled the sister bond well. As the older of three sisters I can attest to the fact that the sister bond can be complicated, awesome, frustrating, hilarious, sprinkled with jealousy and competition and be supportive - sometimes all within the same day. It's a lovely, messy and important bond and it felt authentic.

Along with the teen angst and relationships, many issues are addressed such as teen sex, body image (yay Molly for being a 'bigger girl' and still enjoying food!), underage drinking and mental health (albeit not in a great amount of depth). 

The teenage years can be confusing and overwhelming and Albertalli focuses on the anxiety that some teens feel. But, sometimes Molly's low self-esteem was hard to read and it her inability to speak up for herself was frustrating when a little conversation could have cleared things up. But I'm speaking as someone who is a couple decades removed from teenage angst and while I think her anxiety explained some of her inability to speak up for herself it felt like her 'should I?/shouldn't I?' went on for a little too long.  

Overall, this was an enjoyable and entertaining read. It has a nice amount of quirkiness (I do love me some quirk), sweet romances, a relatable character, humour and focuses on various relationships and issues facing teens. And it also features the life-altering importance of Cadbury Mini Eggs. You gotta love that. 

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