I have had the best time of my life reading contemporaries recently! I usually avoid them, much preferring to live in a fantasy world (sadly, not literally), but I must say, I’ve been reading some phenomenal books. I continued that streak with The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. However, I must make a confession, I have not read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, forgive me. It is now, on the top of my to-buy list come payday because of both how wonderful this book is, and because of all the interlinking characters, I suspect are in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. 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. 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 a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.
The review is spoiler free, of course!
I was provided with a free eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I must say my naivety going into this did not take away from my enjoyment of this novel. Whilst you would definitely get a kick out of the references that are made and the cameos, you definitely don’t need to have read Simon, to enjoy Upside. Upside was a refreshingly honest outlook on anxiety x crushes x weight issues. As someone who has suffered from said combination, it was incredibly heart-warming to know that I am not alone.
So, on continues my streak of reading relatable, authentic characters, in the form of Molly Peskin-Suso. I adored her, I was her. Her experiences with men and anxiety and weight were all mine echoed back at me. Sure, our stories were different, but our emotions the same. The only complaint I had was that the book ended, I could’ve read on and on and on from the POV of this wonderfully three-dimensional character. Molly may be, for me, the most authentic character I’ve ever read from, the way the author weaved her personality into the pages. She was so understandable and again, just so real as she struggled with her weight and the judgements already placed upon her, by either herself or society because of not being their idea of beauty. All of her actions and reactions were honest and justified – even if in a warped sense because sometimes, that’s just how the mind works. It was just wonderful representation.
You may class them as ‘supporting characters’ however they all had the limelight in their own unique way. Molly’s twin Cassie struggled in her own right, with her own issues. Her potentially, maybe girlfriend and first real relationship were both intriguing to read. It was enthralling watching twins develop both together and apart, to see how their relationship endures whilst their so different in looks and personality, whilst still maintain that strong connection that can only come with being a twin.
And, what could definitely be classed as a highlight of the book, the absolutely perfect relationship of their Mom’s. Patty and Nadine are perfect together, their interactions that could be glossed over if you’re not paying close enough attention (but you will be, this book will demand your complete attention), they’re gushy, adorable love that makes their children simultaneously squirm yet swell up wtih pride that these are their parents.
This book explores so many important topics throughout it’s narrative, yet manages to give each the right amount of focus, ensuring each is explored without diverting onto too many tangents. Molly’s issues with her anxiety and weight. Cassie’s first love. The diverse nature of their family; resulting in homophobia and racism. It was a great exploration of expert story-telling by ensuring that when each of these topics was touched upon, it was done with craft and understanding and not an effort to include diversity for the sake of it. Becky Albertalli is a great writer, and that shines through on every single page.
I would heartily recommend this book, it was such a great read that ensured emotional impact that didn’t leave you sombre. It was an honest showcase of the youth of today (doesn’t that sentence make me feel old), and exploring their relationships.
Once payday is upon me, you can bet the first book I purchase is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and I have no fear that I won’t adore that book too.
Have you read The Upside of Un-Requited? What were your thoughts on this book, or Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda? Let’s talk!