Friday, February 2, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 336
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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 feel like I am a total black sheep in regards to this book and might get torn apart for this review. But here we go...

I had a love/hate relationship with this book. Maybe hate is too strong a word. I loved so many things about this book, but there were a couple things that completely disappointed me and even upset me a little.

First of all, before you bite my head off, I adored Molly. I saw myself and a lot of teenage girls in her. She struggled a lot with insecurity and fitting in and, to be honest, just about anyone who has been to high school can find something to relate to in her experience. Molly was perfect in her imperfection and her journey was a delight to watch. Reid was amazing as well. I love Reid. Give me more Reid.

The character that all my problems stemmed from was Molly's twin sister, Cassie. Cassie was the biggest jerk in the world and treated Molly like absolute garbage. And acted like she was doing it out of love! Molly has had many crushes over the years and Cassie never missed an opportunity to make fun of her for never acting on these crushes. WHAT IS WRONG WITH NOT TRYING TO MAKE OUT WITH EVERY BOY YOU THINK IS CUTE????? Answer: Absolutely N O T H I N G. It bothered me so much that Cassie repeatedly made Molly feel horrible about herself by making fun of her crushes. If anyone - friend, relative, or total stranger - had spoken to me that way when I was a teen, I would have retreated even farther into my hole of insecurity and I may have never returned.

And let us not forget: In this book, Cassie enters into a relationship with her first girlfriend. So what makes her the expert on what to do with crushes? Just because she made out with a few people before Molly did, suddenly she is the be all and end all in relationships? You better check yourself before you wreck yourself, Cassie.

Speaking of Cassie's new girlfriend, as soon as Mina appears in Cassie's life, she completely ditches Molly. Yup, she has found another way to treat her like a doormat. She is horrible to Molly because she would rather spend time sucking face with Mina. AND THEN, she turns the whole situation around to make Molly feel like she did something wrong and makes her apologize for being jealous of Cassie's relationship. Seriously, Cassie, I'm done with you. Get out of my life.

Another thing that made me soooooooo sadddddddd was a revelation Molly had toward the end of the book. Now, I truly adore and respect Becky Albertalli. She is a wonderful author and human being who has done and continues to do amazing things for the book community and teens in general. But Molly got a boyfriend and then looked in the mirror and finally felt beautiful.


That scene just broke my heart. I really didn't expect that to be something that happened in a book like this. Dramatic crying emoji.

Speaking of emojis (never thought I'd say that in a review), I have one more note to make about this book, but it applies to a lot of books that are being released lately. As I was reading, I realized that there were A LOT of current cultural references: emojis, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Netflix and chill, etc. This is something we see in a ton of the books that we are reading today. And while these current references make these books super appealing right now in this moment, I think it will also date these books dramatically in the future (and maybe even the near future). Our times are changing faster than we can write about them. These books will appear dated and old-fashioned by next year when the latest social media craze is bound to take over.

Ok, before I get too long-winded, here's my conclusion. I do think this is a good book. It is diverse and important in today's society. Despite my complaints, I do think you should read it. Molly is a true gem and we can all find something to relate to in her. Cassie may be one of my most hated characters of all time, but you need to read this book for Molly, Reid, and Molly's moms (who are also WONDERFUL and I'm sorry I didn't mention them sooner.)