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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - Review

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

It's no secret that I loved Becky's first novel Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, so I was really looking forward to her second book, The Upside of Unrequited. I requested it on NetGalley and was pleased to be approved. thank you Penguin Random House UK Children's!

Where did I get it?  As above, thank you

What's it about? Molly lives in DC with her twin Cassie, mums Patty and Nadine, and little brother Xavier. Molly is queen of the unrequited crush - she's up to 26, but she's never been kissed. Cassie, on the other hand, hooks up all the time, but has never been in love. So when Molly meets Mina in the loos, she doesn't expect her twin to fall in love with her. Mina has two friends, one of whom, Hipster Will, seems to like Molly.

Meanwhile, Molly has started a new job at a shop that is the bricks and mortar equivalent of Pinterest, and while there she meets Reid, son of the owners. She likes him, but isn't sure he's the one for her. Meanwhile, her mums are getting married and Cassie is pulling away from Molly - can they regain their former closeness?

Now, this is almost the kind of novel that I think I could have written, so I was thinking about it in quite a lot of depth about what I loved and what I might have written differently. I hope that doesn't detract from how much I liked this novel - if anything, it's testament to how much it grabbed me. I'm going to look at a few things more closely:

Molly: I loved Molly. She's so much like myself that at some points I wanted to cry. I wanted to cuddle her! She is fat, and I really liked how this was handled - there's no numbers or sizes specified, which may be triggering, and she has typical fat girl angst about wearing cardigans and about whether she'll crush someone during sex. My favourite line of the whole book was this
"I hate hating my body. Actually, I don't even hate my body. I just worry everyone else might"
which struck such a chord with me that I had to write it down. Molly also suffers from anxiety, which is my experience too, and I loved how this was portrayed. It was part of her life, and everyone else seemed to worry about it more than she did.

The mums: Patty and Nadine are adorable. I liked seeing present parents in a YA book. They gave out punishments and talked about safe sex and all kinds of parenty things. They're really good.

Reid: Oh, what a sweetheart. I loved him and his stupid white trainers.

Cassie: Now, here's where I ran into.... Well, not a problem exactly, because I appreciate that Cassie needed to be like she was for the narrative. But I found her really annoying and kind of mean. I was thinking about twins in similar novels, like Wren in Fangirl and even Tippi in One, and I think they're all kind of similar. They're the dominant twin and they're kind of used to getting their own ways? And I find them all kind of annoying. Where's the story from their POV, where I learn to understand them? Cos I'd love to read that. I've been the friend who got left behind when everyone else got a love interest and ran off, and it sucks. So, come on, make me believe WHY they do this!

I also struggled to ground the novel a little. The days switched at random (although that could be due to my proof copy) and I struggled to understand the layout of the house and other things. But those things didn't detract from how much I loved the book, not at all.

What age range is it for? 15+

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, but without any angst, which is great and refreshing

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes their mother Nadine is black. There's actually a really touching and poignant part about people thinking Nadine was Molly and Cassie's nanny when they were little instead of their mother. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Yes, Molly has anxiety

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, it's talked about quite a lot in quite explicit terms. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Prescription ones

Is there any talk of death? No

Are there swear words? Yes, lots. If this will bother you, maybe pick up a different book

Would I recommend the book? Yes, absolutely! It's brilliant. Becky is a really good author who makes things realistically teenage without ever seeming to talk down to teens. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I'd heard the buzz and was desperate to read it.

What other books is it like? It's a lot like Simon vs in that it's grounded very much in the present, and it's a lot like Fangirl in that we feel so much for Molly

How many stars? Eight out of ten - probably even a nine. I really liked it and flew through it!


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