Title: The Opposite of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Number of Pages: 340
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Molly Peskin-Suso has always had the kind of relationship with her twin sister, Cassie, where they feel like they can tell each other anything. Both Cassie and Molly’s moms and Cassie are gay, and while Cassie is gregarious and comfortable with her sexuality, Molly is shy, virginal, and suffers from seriously low self-esteem. But as Molly grows closer to her laid-back and nerdy co-worker Reid, she and Cassie find themselves drifting apart from each other and Molly must face her romantic insecurities head-on while trying to repair her relationship with her twin sister.
This is the third book I’ve read by Becky Albertalli, and while I still think Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is the best, I found myself relating to Molly more than I did to Simon. I think it was her issues with her weight and her frustration at her lack of romantic experience and not feeling ‘normal’ that made me identify with her, even though her behavior was sometimes infuriatingly immature. There were times where I just wanted to smack her and tell her to get over herself, but her flaws made her character feel more believable.
That’s one of the things I liked about this book; that the characters were not all good or all bad, including Molly and Cassie’s insensitive grandmother, who fat-shames Molly, and their homophobic aunt. Becky Albertalli’s ongoing trend of writing teen characters with loving supportive parents continues with Molly and Cassie’s moms, Nadine and Patty. The Upside of Unrequited does a good job of portraying the love and frustration that comes with being part of a family and how complicated the dynamics can sometimes be. I really like when characters from a novel show up again in books from the same author, and I enjoyed getting a brief appearance from Simon Spier from Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Now for the bad stuff. Simply put, Becky Albertalli’s writing style is too repetitive. There are certain phrases that pretty much act as crutch words, i.e. she uses them over ad over again and for someone like me who notices these things, it’s really annoying. It’s not as bad as it was in Leah on the Offbeat but I still felt that it was pretty distracting. If I were Becky Albertalli’s editor I would have gone through an early draft of this book with a black sharpie and trimmed a lot of fat. Okay, less Molly brushing her hair out of her face. Less blushing. Less lip-biting.
This book could have had those parts cut down on and ended up being a little bit shorter and it would have honestly been an improvement. Okay, we get it, Molly is awkward. But her incessant blushing is getting out of hand, it feels like she might actually have a medical problem. I know The Upside of Unrequited isn’t supposed to be great literature or anything, it’s a fluff book with a fun story and fun characters. It’s just that when I read a book I’m always thinking of things I would improve or would have written differently and I saw some issues with the writing here that I wish someone would have pointed out to the writer. So far I’ve enjoyed all of Becky Albertalli’s books, they’re perfect for when I’m not in the mood to read anything too heavy. I hope to see more of Molly Peskin-Suso in the Becky Albertalli universe! 🙂