Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Childrens
Format: E-ARC via Netgalley
Publication Date: 11th April 2017
Rating: 5/5 Stars
This book was kindly provided to me for honest review by the Publisher via Netgalley. This has not impacted on the content of this review, which it my own honest opinion.
This book was such a quick and easy read. The Upside of Unrequited is an engaging slice of life type story following seventeen year old Molly, who has had twenty-six crushes in her life, but has never acted on them. It was so easy to slip into Molly’s head and the result was that this book was very difficult to put down. The book opens with Molly in the toilets at a club wondering how mermaids pee, a response to the decor that feels so genuine and endearing, and instantly put a smile on my face. She has a brief encounter with a girl her age, and takes off from there.
The book is told entirely from Molly’s point of view, she is very relatable and has a distinct and developed voice. I soon felt like I knew her and really related to her as a main character. She is a pintrest queen with an eye for decoration and a talent for crafts. She has a long history of crushes, but she has always been too scared to open herself up to hurt, to act on them. Part of the story is dealing with her trying to open herself up to the possibility of a relationship.
One of the things that I really loved about The Upside of Unrequited is the importance of the relationship between Molly and her twin sister Cassie, and the strong relationships she has with the rest of her family. Too often in YA, main characters have poor to non-existent relationships with their families, especially parents, here the story looks at how these relationships evolve.
There are so many important elements woven in to this story, and I felt like it was really well done. There is a lot of diversity, and it feels totally natural, and none of the characters are reduced to their diverse characteristic, they all read like real people, and I really liked all the different relationship dynamics. There is so much to talk about regarding this book, but I’m going to try to mention things without spoiling anything. Molly, the main character has an anxiety disorder which she takes medication for, this is not a main plot point, but it does come up in terms of how it affects her life. She also happens to be fat, which again is not a defining trait for her character, she is so much more. She is a twin and has a strong relationship with her sister Cassie, who dates girls, at the beginning of the book she meets her love interest, Mina, who is Korean-American and identifies as pansexual. They have two moms, one of whom identifies as bisexual. There are multiple black characters in the book. Also the main character and a number of side characters, including one of the love interests, are Jewish. I’m not in a position to judge the representation of many of these diverse elements, but everything felt well handled as far as I’m aware (please correct me if I am wrong).
So, I have never connected to a YA contemporary book before, like I did with this one. I literally was so absorbed that I did nothing but read this for a day. It was joyful and cute and authentic and it gave me all the feels. I have since read, and really enjoyed Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (which also gave me all the feels), and now I want to reread this all over again. I feel like Becky Albertalli is now an auto-buy author for me, she definitely lived up to the hype, and I am extremely excited to see what she does next. This book was an easy 5 stars, for me and I highly recommend it.