Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: "The Upside of Unrequited" by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited Becky Albertalli
Date Finished: December 28, 2017
Date Published: April 11, 2017
ISBN: 9780141356112
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Source: Personal Copy - Amazon
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Realistic young adult fiction, stories about sisters, first-love stories, Obama-feels

Summary:
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. 


Right? 

My Thoughts:
Reading the summary of this book, I bet you think that it is about a girl trying to get her first boyfriend, right?  Well, not so fast,  That may happen in the book, but that's not what the book is about.  A cynical person might call this a bait and switch, but I see it as a delightful surprise.

So what is this book actually about?  It's a beautiful story of how our relationships change as we grow up.  Yes, there are Young Adult Relationships here, but the real relationship is between Molly and Cassie.  As twins, they've always been close but they are at a turning point as they start to differentiate from each other and find their own ways.  It's bittersweet and authentic, and something with which everyone, even non-twins, can sympathize.

Molly is a complex but realistic character.  She isn't wholly likable, but what seventeen year old is?  She struggles with her circumstances, her emotions, and her anxiety and it is all painfully true.  But she also grows as the story progresses, and does so in a way that makes sense.  At no point did I ever feel like her transformation skipped a step or went a direction it shouldn't.

The romance feature of this book is well-done and satisfying.  Albertalli expertly captures Molly's angst, not only with her desire to be in a relationship, but also watching her twin sister forge ahead with her own relationship.  I'm not sure how accurate the depiction of modern teen life is (because I'm old, um, older) but I didn't feel as though I needed to question it.

Another feature that I loved about this book is that it is set during the summer of 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.  While it was heartwarming to read of Molly's moms finally being able to get married, what really got me was that feeling of a world where things were more optimistic and inclusive.  I call this the Obama-feels and this book had it spades....and I really need that right now.

This book was such a delight that I feel like I should buy a bunch of copies just to hand out to everyone.  I hadn't heard of Becky Albertalli before this, but I will definitely be reading her books in the future.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.



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