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? ~ Goodreads
Source: ARC via ALA16
Boy does this book have a lot to live up to. Becky Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was a HUGE hit and trying to strike gold twice is a very difficult thing.
IMO, The Upside of Unrequited succeeded in carrying on Albertalli’s trademark adorable, relatable characters combined with a story filled with heart that leaves the reader with a giant smile on their face.
I got sucked in right from the first laugh out loud line:
"I'm on the toilet at the 9:30 club, and I'm wondering how mermaids pee."
(*There is context in the book for that quote lol)
Cassie and Molly are twins that share everything. Even though Cassie is the is the outgoing, fearless of the two and Molly often feels relegated to the sidekick roll – they are totally in sync until Cassie falls for Mina. Instead of sharing stories of first kisses with Molly as she usually does, Cassie becomes secretive and wants to spend all her time with Mina instead leaving Molly confused and hurt.
Molly is just trying to get her first kiss but her insecurities about being overweight and her past experiences keep her from taking chances with boys.
“And I’m sorry, but there’s a reason I’m so careful. Boys like Will don’t like girls like me. And if they find out we like them, they are cruel. Always.”
The further Cassie drifts away, the more Molly decides to take a chance. Like ripping off a band-aid – maybe it’s better to just get that first heartbreak done and over with.
“ So, maybe I should let my heart break, just to prove that my heart can take it.”
The romances…swoon BUT Cassie and Molly? I don’t have sisters but these two tugged at my heart strings. They have such a hard time figuring out the new dynamics of their relationship with Mina added to the mix. It’s completely natural to want to spend all your time with your new girlfriend/boyfriend and not share those moments with anyone – including your twin. The anger and resentments build and it was both beautiful and heartbreaking to read.
“We started walking on the same day. Cassie first, and then me.
Now it feels like all we do is take tiny steps away from each other.
The best thing about this book is how it shows that relationships aren’t static. That they’re always in flux and that it's not good or bad - just the natural order of things. I think Albertalli is a master at expressing teen anxiety and insecurities in such a realistic way. And I adore how she includes family, especially parents, who are so often AWOL in YA.
I’ll be honest and say I enjoyed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda more. While TUoU is adorable, it also lagged a bit in the middle. Several readers felt the beginning was slow and took awhile to build, while I thought it started strong then the focus drifted a bit but finished strong. It’s told from only Molly’s perspective and while I enjoyed Molly immensely – I think adding Cassie’s POV would have elevated the story from merely adorable to something truly special.
I love Becky Albertalli’s unique voice and can’t wait to she what she publishes next!