“So, maybe I should let my heart break, just to prove that my heart can take it.”
― Becky Albertalli,
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
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. Right?
Yep, that’s right. You’re finally getting another review from me. It’s been forever hasn’t it? I know. You’ve heard all of my excuses (i.e. work, school, etc.) But, I’ve come out of this godforsaken reading slump. I’m back and it’s all thanks to Eden. (She’s also written a review on this book. Check out her opinions here.) She suggested yesterday that I should pick this bad boy up because it’s a quick read that she thought I’d enjoy. Guess what? She was right.
Let me start off by saying that I love Becky Albertalli. I thought it wouldn’t be possible to duplicate the success of Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda. (Check out my review for it here.) I was wrong. She has a way of weaving contemporary novels like no other. Albertalli is an author who creates characters that are real people. Her books have been had some of the most diverse casts that I’ve seen. There is a great dal of representation in her novels and I love it. She includes many different races, ethnicities, and sexualities. The world feels more representative of the real world than other contemporaries and I really appreciate that.
Beyond the diversity of the novel I fell in love with the characters. They felt much different than characters in other contemporary novels. Their issues and concerns were beyond that of high school. It went past the typical caste system dilemmas that typically take place in contemporary novels. Even characters that seemed to fall into a stereotypical role broke free from that mold. They were full fledged characters.
Often when I am met with a teenage protagonist that is going through and angst ridden time in their life I become annoyed. That was not the case for Upside. I appreciated that our main character recognized the situation for what it was and that she was overreacting. It felt more true to what it’s actually like being a teenager. Albertalli really got those moments where you continue to lash out despite knowing you’re in the wrong. Pride runs rampant in teenage issues and she captured that beautifully.
Let’s talk about our resident Ren-Faire boy, Reid. He was adorable. I loved that he wasn’t your typical guy in a YA novel. He didn’t fall into an archetype or a role. Also, the banter between Reid and other characters was perfect. It had me smiling throughout the novel.
This brings us to Molly, our main girl. Molly was unabashedly herself throughout the novel. She acknowledged her struggles and her insecurities. I really appreciated that she didn’t change her interests, or her friends, or her appearance for the falling action of this novel. She grew but she was still Molly. She’s the girl you cheer on as verbally assaults someone who insulter her. A girl who is more likely to stick up for someone else than herself. I was just endeared by her throughout the novel.
I really enjoyed this novel. It was a super quick read and it made me happy. I was in a great mood at the end of this book and I think that’s what I really needed to get out of this reading slump. Also, the little splashes of Simon were really awesome. All in all, I gave this book 5/5 stars. I would greatly recommend it.
What’s one of your favorite contemporary novels? Let me know in the comments!