Welcome back, my lovely people, to yet another book review.
I apologize for being a little late with this one. I came down with something yesterday and just got over it.
Now, though, it’s time for me to talk about The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.
I know that I’ve already reviewed Leah on the Offbeat, also by Becky Albertalli, but I have never read The Upside of Unrequited, and I’ve been meaning to for a while.
Molly: Molly is a twin. She’s fat (which she thinks about almost constantly). She’s also crushing on her twenty-seventh boy, because of course she’s kept track, and she doesn’t believe anyone will ever like her back. Despite her twenty-something crushes, she has never kissed anyone.
Cassie: Molly’s twin sister, who is a lesbian. Miraculously, her sexuality is not an issue. She is, however, very thin and beautiful, which doesn’t help her sister’s self image. She’s well-meaning, but rarely considers how her actions will effect others.
Nadine and Patty: Molly and Cassie’s moms, who are finally able to get married, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage. Patty used a sperm donor for the twins, and Nadine used the same sperm donor for their son, Xavier.
Mina: Cassie’s girlfriend, who is a pansexual Korean-American. Absolutely adorable and incredibly friendly.
Reid: Molly’s coworker, who she most certainly has a crush on, but keeps denying her crush. He’s a nerd, but Molly has amazing conversations with him.
Will: Will is Mina’s red-headed friend that everyone thinks Molly has a crush on. Cassie’s purpose becomes hooking Molly up with him.
Karen: Nadine’s sister, who says she will not attend Nadine’s wedding because she doesn’t approve of homosexuality.
Molly is a high-schooler during the summer. She just got a new job, where she meets Reid. At first, it seems like they have nothing in common, and Molly clearly has a crush, but she denies that crush because it feels different from her previous twenty-six.
Cassie, Molly’s twin sister, has a new girlfriend, who Molly introduced her to. Cassie is also trying to set Molly up with Mina’s friend Will, because she thinks he and Molly both like each other. Will is a perfect hipster type.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court makes the ground-breaking decision to allow same-sex couples to marry nation-wide. Patty and Nadine, Molly’s moms, choose to finally get married, and they ask Molly to plan and decorate the wedding. Molly is upset when Nadine’s sister, Karen, says she won’t go to the wedding.
And all the while, Molly feels as though she isn’t beautiful because she is fat, and that no boy will ever like her back. She’ll never kiss anyone, she thinks. But, she makes a decision to be less careful when it comes to crushes, because maybe being rejected is what she needs.
My favorite thing about this book was that Cassie, Mina, Nadine, and Patty are unapologetically queer, and exactly one person makes a big deal out of it (Karen). It’s about time that there’s a book with queer characters who are allowed to be queer without their queerness having to be questioned or justified.
However, I found the book to be hard to get through. On top of the choppy sentence structure, it became exhausting to hear Molly constantly doubt herself and talk about how she’ll never find love because of her weight. I get that that is how she feels, and believe me, I understand. But her doubt bleeds into everything she does. She doesn’t think that anyone will like her, and she doubts her own feelings. She doubts her friendships and her familial relationships. Basically every other line is something about her weight. Also, how many times can someone blush? Constantly blushing.
Maybe it’s because I read Leah on the Offbeat before I read this, but I feel like we’ve met Molly before. Leah also had two crushes whom she doubted liked her, too. Leah was also fat. Leah also had a gay side-character who had a same-sex significant other. Again, if I had read The Upside of Unrequited first, maybe I would like this one and not like Leah.
I understand Molly’s self-doubt, but I feel like her doubt was so overwhelming and lasted so long that it was frankly an exhausting chore to read this.
So, unfortunately, I am going to give The Upside of Unrequited 2.5 diamonds out of 5.
Have a great week, and I’ll see you next time!