Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (2017), narrated by Arielle DeLisle

Molly Peskin-Suso has had twenty-six crushes but so far has never even been kissed once. She's self-conscious about her weight and afraid of rejection. Now, her twin sister Cassie has a girlfriend and Molly feels even more alone. This new girlfriend, Mina, has a good friend Molly starts thinking of as "hipster Will" and he is super cute and kind of flirtatious. Cassie and Mina are clearly trying to get Molly and Will together, but Molly is unsure, especially after she starts working with Reid, a Tolkien fan and Ren Faire enthusiast who seems not at all her type, and yet.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage legal, which means that Molly and Cassie's parents can finally get married. Molly immediately gets to work creating centerpieces and other decorations, as this girl was basically born for Pinterest. As the wedding date draws near, tensions run high in the family and Molly fears Cassie's new relationship will mean the two sisters won't ever be as close as they once were.

If the second part of Molly and Cassie's last name sounds familiar, that's because you met their cousin, Abby Suso, in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Abby appears here too, as Molly often turns to her for advice. (Molly even meets Simon himself at one point via Skype.) One thing I really liked about this book was that the family relationships were at least as important as the romantic ones. I loved that Molly's cousin is her best friend, that her relationship with his sister is so incredibly important to her, and that her moms are involved in their daughters' lives in such a caring way. They know everything that's going on with Molly and Cassie and talk to them about it. This means their relationships, but also sneaking around and drinking alcohol. They're very clear about their expectations, but never portrayed as villains. They just care a lot about Molly and Cassie and want them to make good choices.

The romances were great too! As Cassie and Mina fell immediately into an intense relationship, we see it from Molly's point of view. She feels left out when Cassie doesn't tell her everything about her budding romance with Mina, but she also feels left out because it feels like everyone around her has had a relationship except for her. Now she has two boys who seems to be interested in her, Hipster Will and Middle Earth Reid. She coaches herself to get out there and take risks, and her awkward fumbling in dealing with these boys was pretty realistic. I know that poor communication can be an annoying trope, but here it rang true and watch some of her conversations go the way they did was a bit painful but absolutely genuine.

The narration by Arielle DeLisle was decent, though I though she made some of the voices a bit annoying, like Abby's high-pitched squeak. Although I maybe didn't like this one as much as the other two Albertalli books I've read, it was still pretty solid and I'll probably continue to read (or listen to) anything this author writes.

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