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Review: The Upside Of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli


The Upside Of Unrequited

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?

“The Upside Of Unrequited” by Becky Albertalli leaves you with a little jolly stomach of butterflies, thinking about that first crush you had and all the rollercoaster feelings it left behind. That exhilarating and nauseating rush, the feel of blush along your neck and cheeks, it reminds you just how lovely falling in love is.

It also reminds you just how dreadful it is, especially when you’re an awkward teenager. I would not go back in time and want to experience my teenage years ever again mind you, rather, this book by Becky Albertalli brings about a sense of nostalgia that leaves a fuzzy warm feeling in the tummy. I really liked the main character, Molly, and all the charming cast of characters that were more normal than other characters created for young adult novels. There were no stereotypes, no catty high school girls or more fit than you guys. The range was wide, but the kids in this book all acted rather respectably. I hope this might actually reveal something about our future children; that perhaps they grow up a little less ignorant and more inclusive than those awful cliques that once existed, as seen in all the great 80’s teen movies.

That may be something “The Upside of Unrequited” does best, showing how to be inclusive to all different types of people, who like all kinds of different things, and how it really doesn’t take much of an effort to be nice to all those kinds of people. One critique I would say is that there is a little bit of forced exaggeration on just how hipster and hippie-esque the locale is. The setting, the people, the vibe and suburb in where Molly lives might have something to do with how she acts and reacts, but I would have rather seen just a brief bit of it. The setting was established within the first couple chapters, it was clear and I got that it was a more progressive area; truly the further comments within the novel could have been left out. By then it just became annoying, like a hipster pointing out that they were a hipster. Yeah, I got it.

This is a minor quibble, as overall, there isn’t much about “The Upside Of Unrequited”, as you close the book and become aware of that silly smile on your face and reflect on how lovely falling in love can be. I certainly thought back to the night I met my husband; the thrill of it, the tickling in the pit of the belly, the way time slows down and the night expands out into magical infinity. That is what Becky Albertalli reminds me of in her book, the magic of love.

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