I knew I’d like this book. Correction: I knew I’d love this book. Becky Albertalli’s debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was pure magic (I’m shocked I didn’t review it when it came out). But I didn’t just love this book – I love, love, LOVED (add in a million heart eye emojis) it. I know as a writer I should probably have better, more specific words, but I don’t. My love of this book, of these words that Becky Albertalli wrote, transcends my ability to describe it. The story was that good and, perhaps more specifically, that perfect for me.
The story starts with 17-year-old Molly saying she’s had 26 crushes and no boyfriends (you and me both, girl). When her twin sister Cassie starts dating her first girlfriend, Molly vows to be less careful. She should probably be less careful with the new girlfriend’s flirtatious, hipster-boy best friend, Will. But there’s also Reid, her new coworker with too-white sneakers, Middle Earth (correction Middle-earth) t-shirts, and an awkward affinity for Renaissance Fairs. Who Molly totally doesn’t like. Because she can talk to him. And she can never talk to her crushes. That’s how this is supposed to work, right?
I promise I’m not being more spoilery than the book jacket cover. EVEN THOUGH I WANT TO BE!
The characters are the biggest strength of this story. Molly is the beautiful, chubby, Zoloft-taking character of my dreams. Seriously, she would have meant so much to me as a teen. And she does now too. I loved that she was a dreamy, romantic but also had like zero faith in ever actually being liked back. Some of this was tied to her body image, but she also wasn’t on a diet and repeatedly showed moments of body positivity.
More than that she was smart and funny AF. So was the whole book. The text exchanges, the flirting, the friend/sister conversations – these kids were people I would have loved/been totally intimidated by in high school.
And the romance was … everything (maybe add in a few more heart eyes emojis here just for good measure). I had to take breaks from this book because I was getting so overwhelmed. Once I even just held the book really far away from my face so I could take a few deep breaths. My heart was racing.
I also love the sister story going on in the backdrop. Molly is worried about growing apart from her twin sister. Her pain and feeling left behind was so relatable. But it’s not a Molly’s right/Cassie’s wrong or Cassie’s cool/Molly’s not dynamic. They are different. They want different things. They love each other. They both handle some moments well and some moments very not well.
I also loved their moms. Their little brother. Their friends. And the cameo from Simon characters – including, of course, many funny Harry Potter references!
So yeah, I loved this book. Reading it felt like reading so many of my favorite YA books. I have a feeling it will join Fangirl, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and all the Stephanie Perkins novels at the tippity top of my most-loved books list. I’m sure there will be many rereads to come.
7 thoughts on “The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli”
Oh, I agree so much with this review. It is a GREAT contemporary YA. So many important issues discussed here and such a beautifully diverse cast of characters. Just absolutely wonderful!
I think Becky Albertalli handles diversity so expertly in both of her books. As a writer, it makes me feel *so* jealous. But as a reader it is so delightful to read!
She’s just terrific. Definitely one of my favorites.