Contemporary · LGBTQA+ · Reviews · Romance · Young Adult

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli | Review

up.jpgMy Rating: ★★★☆☆

Date Started: 8/13/18 — Date Finished: 8/15/18

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQA+, Romance

Recommended for People Who Like: coming-of-age, main character exploring sexuality, light-hearted books, humor, first person POV, diversity, f/f side characters

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I was really liking this book for the majority if it, but the last 50-100 pages kind of ruined it for me.

I’m just not sure what the big take away of this book is? There’s some other issues that get wrapped up neatly, but I’m talking about the large neon sign issue of the main character feeling sad and weird for not having a boyfriend.

Molly is pretty whiney and angsty throughout most of the book, which didn’t entirely annoy me. Like, I am teenager. I get it; I too am a drama queen and would like the world to revolve around me. I related to her. But what I did not like was that she goes from Princess Curmudgeon to Queen Elizabeth because she meets a boy.

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I know this book is probably not trying to say validation from men = happiness, but it just came off that way to me. Molly literally goes from wanting to throw things at her friend’s face to everything being sunflowers and rainbows because boy.

I just don’t think life lessons were learned in this book? Did Molly learn she doesn’t need a boyfriend to be happy? No, in fact she says, “I can’t believe I went so many years without kissing, I never want to stop kissing”!  I know this is a typical reaction from someone exploring their sexuality for the first time, but I just don’t know what the moral of the story is other than “don’t stress about your first kiss/bf/gf, it’ll happen when it’s the right time”.

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A big element to this story is the diversity. Which is great and I really appreciate it. Molly has two moms (one gay, one bisexual), her twin sister Cassie is a lesbian, one of her moms and her brother is black, and Molly is overweight.

Molly is very self conscious about her body, and says things like, “I can’t even imagine having sex because I would never look good naked, and no boy would ever look at me the way male actors look at these flat-stomached actresses”, etc etc. But then she gets this boy, right, and that’s the one time she calls herself beautiful.

:/

Again, don’t want to say this book is trying to say validation from men = happiness, but like…….. Why couldn’t she feel beautiful without a boyfriend, bro.

In addition to the overarching plot of Molly stressing over never kissing a boy, there’s this subplot of Molly and her sister Cassie’s relationship. Molly is worried that as they get older and they move on with their lives, they’ll drift apart and become less and less close. There’s a lot of lack of communication between them and a lot of being mad at each other.

This was a bit of anticlimactic plot point, honestly. This drifting apart fear mostly stemmed from Molly being lowkey jealous that Cassie has a girlfriend while Molly has no one. But then she get’s her own boy, and she’s like, wow let’s bury this hatchet.

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Despite this book annoying me a lot, I did still like it.

I think a lot of Molly’s thoughts were relatable: her anxiety, awkwardness is unfamiliar situations, her self-doubt, her nervousness but excitement over the thought of kissing a boy for the first time, her feeling of “I’m the last person alone on the planet”.

Just as I said about Simon vs. The Homo Sapien’s Agenda, I think this book is great for people in or entering high school – it’s a good coming-of-age story that could perhaps help readers navigate their own struggles pertaining to relationships and sex.

It’s a good read for young teens who worry about not having had their first kiss yet or not having a bf/gf — this book shows you that’s okay, relax, there’s no need to rush, and it’ll happen when its bound to happen.

Additionally, as I said before, the diversity is really great in this book. I think it’s super important for young teens to be able to read books with characters they can relate to; not even necessarily emotionally, but physically, racially, and sexually too. The default demographic of white and straight has reigned over YA long enough, and I’m happy to see more variety nowadays.

I also think this book is really easy to read; the narration is similar to how I would talk to a friend. I think Becky Albertalli writes teenage characters well, and amidst all this angst and despair she adds this air of humor that reminds the reader to relax and not take life so seriously.

So, I did like this book. I thought it was a fun, relatable, light-hearted, humorous read. My biggest gripe is that the plot and the overall messaging is a bit lacking, and is teetering much too close to boy = happy, in my opinion.

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