The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 11th 2017. 352 pages.
Genres: Young Adult, Diverse Characters & Stories, Realistic Fiction, LGBTQIA, Love & Romance

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.

So I will be perfectly honest with you: I have already read this book twice. TWICE! And it comes out TODAY! (Thank you DRC!)

But that is just how GREAT this book is. I don’t say this very often, but this book is practically perfect. Like, I mean PERFECT.

This is a book I wish would have been available when I was a teen. But I feel like, as a teen, I wouldn’t have been ready for it. And that makes me sad in many ways. But I am ready for it now, and I am glad that it exists for teens now.

I am breaking this post into two parts: my list of the awesome inclusivity that is in this story and my personal reactions and reflections about this book.

Here is a list of why you should buy and read this book today:

  • Fat Girl.
  • Twin sisters (sisterhood!)
  • Jewish family
  • Pansexual character
  • Zoloft (and Anxiety)
  • Biracial, Adopted family
  • The Rainbow Whitehouse (Marriage Laws!)
  • Defining what Intimacy means.
  • Breast Feeding in public.
  • Boobs, Vaginas, and Labia, OH MY! This story does not shy away from anatomically correct terminology. It embraces the female body without embarrassment or shyness. Just simply as fact.
  • Feminism to the MAX!

This seems like a checklist, but I promise you it does not feel like it at all. This story is real and authentic and everything just makes sense. Of course Molly takes Zoloft for anxiety. Of course Mina is pansexual. Of course this biracial lesbian couple is Jewish. It just makes sense. And it is beautiful and wonderful and complicated and simple and REAL.

Molly is me. But the thing is, Molly is probably also you, too. And you and I, we are probably very different. And that is okay. We are both beautiful. And that is the beautiful truth of this story. You can be beautiful, without conditions.

And here is where I get completely honest and super personal.

Molly is me.
She is me in elementary school when I was part of a group yet still somehow felt left behind.
She is me in middle school when I was bigger and more awkward than all of my friends and I never thought a boy would ever look at me.
She is me in high school when I had so many crushes but never did anything; when I liked (really liked) the boy that ended up liking my friend instead of me; when the first person told me I was beautiful.
She is me in my first week of college when I met a boy and thought he was so cool but also really sweet and I just wanted to hang out with him a lot and then he ended up liking me as much as I liked him, even though I wasn’t small and perfect. And then we stayed together and got married.

I don’t think I have ever felt so incredibly close to a character in a book before. It was literally like I was reading a story about me if I hadn’t grown up in a conservative Christian household. Her fears, her thoughts about herself, her emotional fights, her self-doubts–all of these things are things I have struggled with my entire life (and still struggle with even though I am happily married).

Molly is beautiful, and characters like her are what give girls like me hope and confidence and acceptance. I am glad Molly exists in this world. She is desperately needed, and I am so glad to have met her. Thank you, Becky.

I have a very personal, very deep connection to Molly. And I have a very passionate love for this book. It may very well weasel its way into my top five books of all time, which is not an easy feat (and a book hasn’t done that since 2007 so……). THAT is how beautiful, wonderful, and practically perfect this book is. And that is why you should go find yourself a copy today and read it. So that you, too, can feel beautiful again.

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