Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Length: 336 pages | 7 hours 59 minutes
Source: Won in Blind Date with a Book, hosted by Great Imaginations (same folks who host Story Sprites, which I love)
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.
This book was exactly the mindless fluff I needed when I picked it up. Sixteen year old Molly reminded me of my teen self in many humbling ways (and also, not at all in some aspects). Innumerable crushes on unlikely boys? That was my life. Concern about growing apart from your best friend, and being powerless to stop it? Also me. So reading this felt comfortable.
I was glad it never tried to be multi-layered, though, because Molly’s perspective, attitude, and language is very young. I mean, authentically teenager, which gets pretty annoying after awhile. Albertalli does a good job balancing Molly’s self-centered mopiness with Reid’s puppy-dog enthusiasm and earnestness, and Will’s good-natured maturity, so that the story doesn’t get bogged down. There are also some stunningly fun moments (Molly at the party when the random skeezer “compliments” her by telling her she’s hot for a big girl? PRICELESS)
I appreciate that Molly’s defining turning point in the narrative is when she decides to be less careful, and take risks. I firmly believe that overcoming our tendency toward fear (where bruising the ego is concerned) makes magic happen. So her embracing that, albeit in realistically tentative ways, and it leading to good things made me happy. But probably the biggest strength of this story is way the author captured the emotional highs and lows and exhilaration of having a crush. That, more than anything else, had me tearing through the book and finishing it in two days.
Overall, I’d recommend it for fans of contemporary YA, YA romance, and fluffy feel-good stories. Oh, and diversity- this book has it in spades.