Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: April 11, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
I was never interested enough to pick up Becky Albertalli’s book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, when it was front and center in every book store I visited two years ago.
When I was perusing the nominees for Best Young Adult Fiction in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2017, I came across yet another one of Alberatelli’s books and decided to give the author a chance.
The Upside of Unrequited was humorous and relatable from the get-go.
“I don’t think she gets it. There’s a reason I’ve had twenty-six crushes and no boyfriends. I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.”
I can see where the comparisons to this book and Fangirl come from. Molly and Cassie’s personalities mirrored the polar opposite pattern of Cat and Wren from Fangirl, Molly being the home body and Cassie the party animal. Due to her more reserved nature, Molly was struck with unbearable loneliness when Cassie starts spending most of her time with Mina. Having sisters of my own, I was able to empathize with Molly’s sense of losing her sister to another person and sadness in realizing that it was an end of the era of being the most important person to Cassie. It kind of felt like the book was confronting me
(and I felt very attacked).
Seeing that her sister and all her close friends are all in relationships, Molly was prompted to be more proactive in finding a boyfriend. The most obvious choice for her was the boy all her friends and sister ship her with: Will. Plus, he was Mina’s best friend, so dating him would guarantee Molly some time with Cassie. However, Molly found herself thinking more about her co-worker Reid. Even though he was not conventionally attractive, they were more compatible in their interests and share the same awkward
(and completely adorable) tendencies.
Molly tended to fixate on certain ideas or thoughts (like who she was more interested in—Reid or Will—or if she really wanted a boyfriend) so much of the prose felt like reading a constant internal debate. I think Albertalli nailed what it’s like in the mind of a constantly overthinking teenage girl.
She also did a great job in detailing a realistic narrative of the awkwardness of navigating through a first relationship. This is something I’m seeing YA authors do more of in contemporary stories (e.g. A Quiet Kind of Thunder and Geekerella), and I really appreciate it. On top of that, Molly had amazing support from her parents, another thing I love to see in YA stories. It was exciting to see Molly grow and adapt to change without losing the essence of her character.
This was a cute book clearly written with diversity and representation in mind and with the purpose of accurately portraying current teenagers and their problems.