The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli [Review]

I began to read this book at around 2AM, seeing as I had it as an eARC and didn’t want to sleep. Word of advice: if you don’t want to sleep, pick up this book! I was hypnotized from the very first sentence “I’m on the toilet at the 9:30 Club, and I’m wondering how mermaids pee,” not only because of how random it was but also of how this turned out to be the beginning of a flowering relationship with Molly as a character. Molly, such an incredibly complex girl that was easy to relate to in her attitude, perseverance, hopelessness, crafty creativity, self-doubt, and many other qualities that made her shine beyond the pages like a fully-fleshed person. With the later additions of characters and interesting plot, this novel gripped me into one of my favorite YA books of this year so far.

Another aspect I enjoyed endlessly was the relationship between Molly and her twin sister, Cassie. They are everything you expect of twin sisters: deeply connected, dependent on each other, so similar but also different in their own fantastic ways. But even with that, throughout the story, it was interesting to see how their bond is affected once Cassie falls in love with a girl right from the start. This allows for family and friends drama, as well as perceiving deeper into Molly as a character as she deals with her anxiety and insecurities.

Also, Molly has had many crushes in the past. At first this may seem somewhat far-fetched, but once you think about it, haven’t we all liked someone in a way just to be met with unreciprocated feelings? This is normal, Molly knows it, but she also wants to experience love and other things that she believes she probably won’t because of her anxiety and weight. It’s a reality of her developed character not simply told, but shown through her actions, thoughts, and feelings that allow the reader to connect and feel for her and with her.

Now, the romantic aspect with Molly and the love interest was so cute! It was innocent, fun, flirty, and dorky. It reminded me of Rainbow Rowell’s romance style a bit. There wasn’t much depth to it like in other books I have read, although it was still pleasing. Then we have three (I think?) queer relationships, with characters of different sexual orientation that were also nice to read about, as they showed a broader spectrum of romance and serious relationships in different stages, regardless of their orientation.

As much as I loved this book, there were some parts at the beginning that felt off for me, but that is more a matter of preference. There is mention of gay marriage being legal throughout all the United States, as well as other topics that are of the social and political type. This felt strange at first mainly because it didn’t fit with the starting chapter, as well as the synopsis of the story. It seemed put there just to make a statement about what was happening in the real-world, in a reflective sort of way, though positive. Thankfully, as the story progressed, these topics were woven with the few present plot elements that kept being developed with the characters to make more sense, as well as interesting. In addition, there wasn’t much plot going on. It was all completely character-driven, which for certain themes it’s great, but at other moments  I’d be thinking “What is even happening here, or what is the point?”. Again, a matter of preference.

This being the first book I read of Becky Albertalli, I thought it was well written. It’s easy to dive into its compelling character-driven story. Other than being a cute read, it also provides a wide variety of characters and family dynamics that I found to be perfect for analyzing. I took a course in Family Communication, and this book deals with real issues and family relations that make it even more realistic to read about.

Overall, you won’t want to miss this Young Adult Romantic story that also connects with her other novel, Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, with small cameos that previous readers of Becky Albertalli will love. Cannot wait to read that one sometime soon, as well as forthcoming titles of hers.

Rating: 4 stars

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