Published by Penguin Teen Australia on April 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
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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.
The Upside of Unrequited is a companion to Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It focuses on Abby’s cousin, Molly, and her journey to finding love and having her first ever romance. Simon vs for me was a standout book and The Upside of Unrequited didn’t quite live up to my extremely high expectations but I still really enjoyed it and thought it was fun, quirky and charming.
The novel is about Molly, who has had 26 crushes in her lifetime but has never had a boyfriend or been kissed. She’s afraid of putting herself out there and is always guarding her heart carefully because she’s bigger than other girls. However, when her twin sister, Cassie, falls in love, Molly finds it difficult to not feel as though she’s losing her other half. Her sister and her new girlfriend, Mina, are determined to get Molly and Mina’s best friend, Will, together, but Molly can’t help but be drawn to her coworker, Reid. Torn between pleasing her sister and going with what her heart feels, Molly must learn to love herself first. I really enjoyed the story in this book because of its family elements and all the character growth that we saw in Molly. There were lovely relationships between all of the different characters in the book and I really appreciated how much time was spent on making these relationships come to life. The story is not only about Molly, but also about her sister, her parents, her cousin, and her other friends. The coming-of-age elements in the novel were done really well and it allowed me to get a good sense of who Molly was at the start and the confident young woman she evolved into towards the end. Her story was extremely relatable and captured the essence of what it’s like to be a confused teen who feels like everyone else is growing up without her.
I also really loved the diversity that was in The Upside of Unrequited. There were so many POC and queer characters and it really made for a beautiful and well-rounded story. I especially loved that Molly had two mothers and that her family wasn’t a convention family and it was nice to see the bond between Molly and the rest of her family members, beyond just Cassie. It was really great to see that Molly had a great relationship with her parents, especially since antagonistic parental relationships are so common in YA. I was a big fan of most of the characters in the book, and it was really nice to see cameos from Abby, Simon and Nick. They added a hint of nerdiness to the book, which I was missing from the rest of it.
I have to admit that the romance was probably the one aspect of the book that I was looking forward to the most because of how much Simon vs made me feel. I wasn’t really enamoured by the romance between Molly and Reid, though I wasn’t disappointed either. I thought it was adorable but it didn’t have that special spark and chemistry that usually makes me swoon when it comes to contemporary romances. I liked how Molly and Reid interacted with each other and how they bonded over cookie dough and Cadbury Mini Eggs (which are the equivalent of Oreos in this book). The honesty in their relationship and the way that they didn’t really beat around the bush was really nice to see as well.
I can’t say that I loved The Upside of Unrequited as much as I loved Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda but it was an extremely diverse and charming story that captures perfectly the confusion and fear of growing up and change. I enjoyed the romantic elements in the book and really appreciated all the family elements in the book too.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks to Penguin Australia for providing a review copy.