Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Depression, Anti-Depressants, LGBTQ+
Blurb from Goodreads
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?
Is that it???
This is written by the same author as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda!!!!!!!! A book I adored… and then she writes THIS??????????? I am scratching my head with befuddlement.
I have so many issues with this book regarding underdeveloped plot lines and characters…
Let’s start with the issue regarding sertraline.
Sertraline is an SSRI antidepressant that is typically prescribed for patients to treat things such as major depressive episodes, OCD, panic attacks, PTSD and social anxiety. You may be more familiar with it if I use the brand names Zoloft or Lustral.
So imagine a main character in a YA book who is prescribed an antidepressant such as this. You’d think that would be a pretty major part of the story right? That trips to psychiatrist or similar expert in mental health would feature?
There was NOTHING!!!!
It was just randomly mentioned once or twice in passing as a reason why the MC should not drink alcohol…. Like it’s okay to be on an antidepressant. I’m not saying that the main character shouldn’t have a regular life but this just seems ridiculous to me!!! Being prescribed an SSRI antidepressant is something that isn’t exactly taken lightly and I just felt that this book treated it entirely too frivolously.
Issue number two: let’s play diversity bingo.
Pretty much this book just tried to think of every conceivable diverse character there is in YA today and throw one of each into this book. Look great… I’m all for diversity as being the norm, that’s how life should be, but don’t just start throwing around sexual identity terminology in particular without properly explaining it. This is targeted towards a young YA audience who learn from books so don’t assume your reading audience knows everything yet. Society isn’t there yet and this book is a modern day contemporary not futuristic…
And PLEASE at least try to make your supporting characters feel realistic and multilayered!!
Characters are more than simply describing their physical features, their race and sexual identity. Don’t forget to write them with living, beating hearts.
Next problem. Unrequited love versus body issues.
Most of us at some stage in life have to deal with the issue of unrequited love. It’s a bitch. To like someone and not have them like you back for whatever reason… It sucks, it’s horrible but we live and learn right? And hopefully we are lucky enough to find that other person that just gets us.
I thought this was a great premise for a cute YA novel. Teen protagonist feels like everyone else is in love except her. I’ve been there! There are LOTS of issues you could explore and talk about.
What I didn’t like was bringing weight into this story. The MC, Molly, called herself fat. And somehow this weight became part of the reason as to why she was unlovable? Why her love was unrequited!
I CALL BS!!!
Look I get that that wasn’t the ultimate and only reason why the MC felt un-crushworthy and wouldn’t put herself out there…. but it always featured as a bitter undercurrent in this novel. As if somehow being overweight somehow equated to not being lovable??? See my problem is that this just was not well written. It just left the storyline open to too many unsavoury interpretations.
Things I liked but we’re still not enough to rescue this book but let’s just mention them anyway for completeness:
- It had a cute factor! Reid was cute AF! Where was he when I was a teenager??? And Abby’s texts… My kind of best friend!
- There were some laugh out loud moments and some genuinely touching moments between the two sisters Molly and Cassie (Peskin-Suso).
- Nice if a little simplistic depiction of a family with two moms… So great to see female-female relationships being portrayed as stable and secure.
- Same goes for the relationship between Cassie and her girlfriend Mina. A positive female-female teen romance. But again it was a little too bland.
But because this was from the same author who wrote Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, a book I loved, overall I just feel underwhelmed.