“How does one acquire a boyfriend?”
The above qoute is literally the sole premise of the novel. Don’t mind all of the really interesting and touchy subjects that impact and almost hinder every aspect of the protagonist’s life, all that seems to fade when she’s on her quest for love. What anxiety? What body image issues? AnYWay, here’s my review!
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because 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. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And 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 an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
I liked this book initially. The friendships between the twin protagonists, their cousin, and their best friend was really something to be envied, and the wonderful integration of the queer relationships was very sweet. Although, that was only the start of the book, and it was memorable – evidenced by the fact that I pick this book up one whole year later and continued from 40 pages in.
Remembering this cuteness when I picked it up a whole year later, I had high expectations to just be enveloped by pure fluff and cute queer relationships, and not some confused story which brushed aside all the promising plot lines for a confusing romance.
My Main Issue: There were too many issues that could've been bigger and more impactful though they were all glossed over to make Molly's failed romantic endeavours the main focus of the novel.
I like to say that this is a perfect Pride month, but in reality the only queer representation feels like it’s just been added in there for the queerness of it, and I know some people may like or even love this aspect of the book, but I don’t feel that it was properly queer representative due to the main focus still being on the straight protagonist, whose main goal is to acquire a boyfriend.
There were parts of the novel where it focused more on Molly’s interests and self-care, in which we learn that she is deeply invested in Wedding planning and wedding blogs and these moments just seem so intimate and give me all the Pinterest and creative feels; inspiring me to work on my bedroom planning.
Let’s talk about Molly, the protagonist of the novel. The only straight one in a family of queer females and all she wanted was a boyfriend. She started off cute and overall wasn’t really problematic, especially where she had these cute crushes on people and an affinity for crafting and wedding planning.
I know our main character is white, though I don’t see her as so and that fact isn’t explicitly stated, so here is my aesthetic visualisation of who Molly is as a person.
I got the inspiration to do this from The Writing Hufflepuff’s Blog which you should all check out.
Molly had so much potential as a character. She takes medication for her anxiety which is never mentioned (so I assume the tablets work); is chubby and is teased by her grandmother for this, which I find, is the only time her size is explicitly mentioned to be a problem to anyone in the novel; but regardless of these issues, Molly doesn’t feel weighed down by these problems, especially in the social department, and it seems as if everyone else has more problems than herself.
Her sister Cassie is her rock, though when things begin to fall apart between them Molly doesn’t know how to pick up the pieces and move on, opting to just sit and reminisce on the good old days. This shows what kind of person Molly is as she wants to repair her relationship with her sister, but doesn’t try all that hard.
Cassie, Molly’s sister, is a queer teen who has had numerous hookups, dealing with finally has a proper girlfriend, she tries to set her sister up with a boy whom she is already friends with in an attempt to not lose her. All of Cassie’s actions seem very rebellious and sometimes hostile as she learns to deal with her new relationship. I really wanted to know more of Cassie’s life rather than Molly’s, as Molly just wasn’t giving me that teen angst and dealing with stressful situations drama I wanted from this contemporary.
I actually really adored the characters of this novel. They were well established and lovely, though the novel wasn’t written taking into account all of their problems, and it really just seemed that Albertalli only had one objective in mind; Get Molly a boyfriend. In that process she totally disregarded all the problems that would arise when a girl who has been body shamed her whole life – by either herself or others – enters a relationship; or better yet a girl whose been body shamed AND had anxiety!
★ Rating ★
I’d already given this book a 3/5 stars on Goodreads immediately after finishing it, though, after much thought on a drive home in foggy darkness, I realised that there were so many issues in Molly’s life that were so much more important than the boyfriend situation, and elaborating on these would’ve made the “I can’t get a boyfriend because I’m a big girl with anxiety;” a far more compelling plot point.
For the fact that there was so much clear potential for this story to go in many directions and explore various other quite human issues, I’m giving this read a ★★☆☆☆ (2/5 stars).
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? I’ve heard mixed opinions on this novel and I would like to know what your experience was reading this book, and also if you agree with my review.
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Thank You, With Love Bree xx
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0 thoughts on “The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli | Semi-Spoiler Book Review”
I remember enjoying this book (I read this, “Leah on the Offbeat,” and “Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” around the same time) but just a year later I don’t remember it that well (possibly not a good sign.) I think Becky Albertalli’s books are fun and a nice change from the really dark stuff I usually read, but to be honest I don’t think she’s THAT great of a writer. I agree with you that Molly’s anxiety and body image issues could have used to be fleshed out. Great review! 🙂
Yes I totally agree with you! Thank you for your comment 🙂