Hey there, bookish folks! I hope you’re well and here we are with a book review.
Funny enough, but this review really comes on the perfect time. Just yesterday, when I followed a link throught Instagram stories, I ended up on the stories of this thin Italian girl. There, she literally… not exactly ranted, but definitely went invalidating society fatphobia in over 20 stories parts.a
I guess I’m good, because my mental health didn’t go down, neither I was that angry. I just wrote a tiny salty caption in my stories, and if you know me, you well know that’s not “angry” for me. Anyway, this was another reminder that I should excpect nothing by white thin feminist.
Anyway, with this nice reminder, let’s go talking about this amazing book with a fat protagonist, someone who actually deserve a spotlight.
Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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?
The Upside of Unrequited was one of the books that made me slowly fall in love with contemporary young adults. For various reasons, all without a real justification, I always felt detached from them. Then I found Fangirl, Radio Silence and then this book came too.
Some good reason to read the novel?
Well, first of all it’s very cute. If a book could be rated by its fluffy-ness, it would be this one.
Do you remember when book twitter folks wanted more books with positive family represented in the pages? Well, this is the case. The family is composed by a lesbian and a bisexual women, then there’s Molly, her twin sister Cassie, who is lesbian, and their baby brother. The family is also Jewish.
And… this family broke me.
In a good way, eh! It broke me because it was a family with some issue, like every other family, but there was love in it. I could feel it through the pages and, at the end of the novel, I felt something snapping inside me because the truth is, I’ll never have that family with my own parents. It doesn’t mean that I cannot create one in the future on my own, but I never had it as a daughter. If you know a tiny bit, you know I don’t affirm this stuff lightly, so you can trust when it comes to represent a nice supporting family in The Upside of Unrequited.
Another good reason is Molly. I liked her, I liked her a lot. Me and her aren’t the same person but I related deeply to her multiple crush. Actually, more than that, I saw the continues crushing over strangers as a way to fit inside society. I remember that, when I was younger, not knowing my asexuality and feeling constantly bombarded by fatphobia… something born inside me. It was insecurity, need of validation, desire to be like the others. I randomly said how I was crushing on boys I didn’t really cared about deeply, supposing that was what I should have done.
Seeing her and all the missed occasion, it resonated with me. Yes, Molly lived differently from me, but I cannot help to recall a part of myself in the narration.
In fact, during the book, Molly will have to overcome all of her dreams and fantasises, despite going for them until she realizes how things always don’t go as you wish. It’s also a path to her slowly getting free of the bad things people did to her because of her fatness.
On that side, The Upside of Unrequited is a story of discovery. Too bad I saw many putting down this fact. To be honest, it’s recurring pattern when the story involves a fat girl. She’s free to commit errors, especially if she’s part of a young adult book. Whatever path the fat girl takes, it’s not enough clean and perfect, so the realization of her worthiness, whatever comes out even in a not so good way, it’s seen as wrong.
I noticed it a lot, and that something you should consider before reading the novel: appreciating your own it’s a work in progress. Molly start as someone who isn’t exactly loving herself, not ready to take many steps and neither are the people around her. It’s a path and at the end of the book, a teenager won’t be at the end of her self-love travel.
Just like not everything Molly says make sense and it’s messy… so can be her story. Also, it’s not like adult people aren’t messy and everything is rational in their lives.
Personally speaking, the romance wasn’t something I cared that much about, despite the fact that is quite a central point of the whole book. It’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I want to talk about the novel.
I think that many of you will find it pretty adorable (?), but I was mostly focused on hoping everything was going to turn out for Molly and so the other characters.
In the end… buy this book and read it with an open heart, because it’s worthy! It has a lot of representation, from casual to more explored, cute romance, a beautiful family, sister, friendship, and a lot of sweets, including a fluffy ending