I have read this book weeks ago and yes, I am only putting up my review for this book now. Not that I did not enjoy the book because coming from this author’s first book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda which I really enjoyed there’s no reason why I won’t blog my review for this one. It’s just that when laziness comes into me, I’m weak to fight it.
The book follows the story of Molly Peskin-Suso, a 17-year old fat girl who dreams of one day he’ll eventually find her true love. Let’s just say that she’s a hopeless romantic. She wants it but she’s hesitant to start as she’s afraid of being rejected because of her size. So for now, she’s contented with just having crushes. Unrequited crushes at that. Molly has a fraternal twin sister, Cassie, and both are sperm donor babies. They were raised by their two mothers, an interracial couple. The book follows as Molly moves in her world unsure and insecure about her feelings and surroundings. We follow Molly as she tries to chase love and figure out her relationship with her sister who’s very much in love with a girl, Mina. We follow Molly as she fall in love, there’s Will who was Mina’s friend and Reid whom she meet at her new work. We follow her as she decides who among the two she really wants while at the same time trying to balance the drama at home with her relationship with her sister and her family. There are questions about first love, sisterly jealousy and love and just about finding one’s self and identity.
“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.”
― Becky Albertalli, The Upside of Unrequited
Without a second thought, if someone asks me how did Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda fared to me, without a doubt I will say that it was a wonderful read read. With The Upside of Unrequited, I don’t know, it’s a little bit missing that spark that I enjoyed form the author’s first book. Not that I am saying that this second book was a let down. It’s just that I was not able to fully connect to the characters more than what I did with Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I felt like the characters here lacks the “personality” that I was so looking forward to. I remember this author’s first book as quick witted, funny and quirky but for this book I kind of missed those ones which as how I get it, this new book was marketed as the same as her first one so I kind of expected the same atmosphere.
I am all for diversity in my readings and that’s one of the aspects that I enjoyed with this book. There’s a fat main character, multiple black and lesbian characters, a Korean-American pansexual girl, Jewish side characters and the main character having a history of anxiety. Yes, readers were introduced to the characters, who they were and what they do but I felt like there’s no much digging made for them to be fully introduced for me to allow to really connect to any of the characters. I don’t know if I am making sense now. I guess there is a difference between describing a character and telling your audience who they really are, their thoughts and their feelings, which I believe are vital for me to sympathize with them. I want the characters to be even more fleshed out. But yeah, that’s my only criticism with this book.
Aside from the diversity that this book offered, what I also enjoyed is the relationship between Molly and her sister and their close family relationship. This was my first time reading a family with two mothers standing as the parents and it was a good first time. I like the family being open, honest and supportive to each other. I like the family having connection with each other. I like how the book made the parents actively participate in the lives of their daughters. They were not treated as a regular side character who only appears once in a while in the story. The author made the parents a vital part of the story. The family dynamics of the story made this book a worthwhile read.
“You would matter. That’s the thing.”
Becky Albertalli, The Upside of Unrequited
Another aspect that I enjoyed from this book is how realistic the dialogues are and how realistic the life of teenagers are portrayed. It didn’t sugarcoat in portraying how teenagers really are nowadays. The book did not veer away from talking about alcohol and sex. They are sensitive, conscious and pressured by a lot of things: school, family and friends. There’s also that pressure of being in a relationship. When you’re friends talk about their love life and you can’t relate, there’s that feeling that you are not one of them. The book showed the genuine reality of growing up and intricate threads of understanding it.
As per the writing style, the only criticism I have is the lack of connection and depth that I felt with the characters which I already talked about. I appreciate that they are diverse but I kind of feel that they are lacking some substance. Aside from that, there’s nothing more that I can say as negative about the book. Narration moves from being dramatic to hilarious in a flawless way. I did no find my self lost while reading the book. The book became an easy read like how I expected to be like its predecessor. The writing style has that enough balance of simplicity and being elaborate.
The book values the importance of having an open communication with your family. The book talks about having the confidence whatever your body size maybe and embracing and accepting who you are. The book is a coming of age story about coming out and realizing that bodily images does not matter when it comes to falling in love. Love has a way of finding us and it is not to be chased. It may appear that Molly’s has been all about finding love but eventually the book became about realizing that life is indeed complicated and we find ourselves doing different things looking for happiness and love but sometimes, we fail to just stop and fail to notice that happiness is just in front of us. Happiness can be found with our family and our connections with them if we’ll just allow open communication.
Overall, this book, though, not as outstanding like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, still became an enjoyable read for me. Reading this book gave me somewhat like that same vibes that I felt while I was reading Simon and I kind of miss that. And did I already mention that Simon had a cameo in this book? 😉
4 stars out of 5.
Author: Becky Albertalli
Release Year: April 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
No. of Pages: 320 pages
About the Author:
Becky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, DC. These days, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons, and writes very nerdy contemporary young adult fiction.