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.
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I haven't read anything by this author before, but I have heard a lot about her works. So I do want to try out one of her books sometime soon! I actually own this one so I am looking forward to when I get the chance to dive into it. The characters sound so bright!
Oooh I hope you absolutely fall in love with this book! Becky Albertalli is a fantastic writer and she incorporates so much diversity into her books. I highly recommend both of her novels! Enjoy!
I LOVED this book, so much. I just related to Molly on so many levels- and I think it helped that I DID ship the ship a lot 😉 I also haven't read Simon yet (I know, I know, I HAVE TO and I will, ASAP!) so I didn't have that to compare it to- now I am extra excited! Great review!
Hahaha I'm glad to hear that the ship was sailing for you! I didn't really mind it but it didn't really give me the same feels that Simon and Blue did. I guess it's just really hard not to compare the two. *gasps* Shannon, you NEED to read Simon VS now!
Well I guess it’s hard for The Upside of Unrequited to live up to high expectations, since everybody loved Simon vs so much. One of the aspects I adored in Simon vs was positive family representation, I’m so happy to hear Becky Albertalli continues to portrait loving and caring parents and siblings. I’m sick of “crappy parents” trend in YA. Great review as always, Jenna!
I completely agree, Ksenia! The crappy parents who are always absent or alcoholic is an overdone trope. I absolutely loved the familial relationships in Becky's books and that the parents are always extremely supportive. It's really beautiful to see!
This sounds like such an adorable book, and I love how the diversity and cute relationships are approached here. I'm glad to hear that the moral of the story is that Molly learns to love herself and everything comes after that. Lovely review Jenna!
It was a beautiful moral to the story, Jeann! I know that you enjoyed Simon vs so I hope you love this one just as much when you get the chance to check it out!
I absolutely loved all of the diversity going on in this book, and I adored Molly's character. She was witty, fun, and full of real thoughts that made the book a complete joy to read!
I absolutely loved how relatable Molly was as well. It was just so easy to connect with her from the very start, and the diversity was great as always from Becky Albertalli!
So glad you enjoyed this book! I absolutely loved it, and I am super picky with contemporaries 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts 😀 Great review!
Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles
I'm so glad that you loved the book too! It's great to hear that this contemporary managed to capture your heart!
I can't wait to read this one!!! I didn't LOVE Simon Vs as much as everyone else did, but I remember liking it. I feel like I'll have much more relatable moments with Molly though, especially since the book explores her own thoughts about her body size (which is something I'm always insecure about). Love the review Jenna
I've heard lots of people say that they loved Upside more than Simon vs so hopefully you're one of those people! It was so much fun and the relationships in the book were superb. I loved Molly's family so much and I also definitely related to her insecurities about her body as well. Hope you get a chance to check it out!
What is with Becky Albertalli and always making me want food? First Oreos, now Cadbury mini eggs…shame the shops are closed today or I'd probably go out and buy some. But ahhh I can't WAIT to read this. Sounds super diverse and definitely up my alley.
Omg yessss, her books put me in a permanent state of hunger! I don't think I appreciated Cadbury mini eggs until now but they are sooo good! Hope you managed to snag yourself a copy, Em!
I'm glad to hear this was good as I really want to read it! I wasn't sure as I've seen both positive reviews and mixed ones, but yours has me feeling confident in it again lol. And I like the sound of the healthy parental relationships- that's always nice to see. Sounds great!
Omg the familial relationships in this book were amazing. It's been a while since I've loved a family as much as this one… probably not since Simon's family in Simon VS!
Thanks for the review. I need to pick this for a nice, fun, relaxing read for summer.
I'd highly recommend this one for the summer! It's really fast-paced and was really entertaining to read!
I am glad you enjoyed this one!! I just finished it and kind of loved it. I thnk I related to Molly and loved her and Reid. The diversity in it was great as well. I can't wait for more from Becky Albertalli now. Great review!!
Ugh I cannot wait for Becky's next release. Her two novels so far have been wonderfully diverse and relatable so I can't wait to see what her next one is about!
I actually just finished reading this book! I personally enjoyed it a smidge more than Simon VS but then again, I read Simon a long time ago and probably need to re-read it soon! I thought Upside was a really cute and quirky book and I loved the different types of love explored in it whether it be the familial love or the friendships or the romantic love! I also love how real the characters felt, especially Molly who had such a strong personality and I loved her for it! Thanks for sharing this awesome review Jenna and sorry to hear it was a bit of a disappointment!
I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed it, Anisha! I really ended up liking it too but I guess I just loved Simon vs and the characters in that novel a lot more. I completely agree with you on how realistic the characters were though and Molly as a fantastic main character. I connected with her pretty instantly and her family was just amazing! Looking forward to Becky's next book!