The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

‘The Upside of Unrequited’ by Becky Albertalli: a book which made me ridiculously happy! :):):)

on May 20, 2017

upside

The Upside of Unrequited. Becky Albertalli. Penguin. April 2017.

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?


I can’t even explain to you how much joy I experienced whilst reading this book. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know how frequently I wax lyrical about Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, aka the book I reread whenever I’ve had a thoroughly crappy week and need some cheering up. Because of how much I loved Becky Albertalli’s debut, I was nervous picking up her second book, worried I wouldn’t adore it in the same way I did Simon. But my worrying was in vain, people! This book made my heart so happy, and I can now officially say that Becky Albertalli is one of my FAVOURITE authors. I will auto-buy anything she ever writes in the future, and I can’t WAIT for her next book!

One of the reasons I loved this book so much was Molly; she was SUCH a relatable protagonist. At school, I was exactly like Molly – I was super awkward and shy around boys I liked, and I never put myself out there, because I was so scared of rejection. I was also overweight like Molly, and I related so much to how this made her feel at times, particularly when she felt like the boys she liked wouldn’t be interested because of her weight.

Molly also had anxiety, and sometimes I felt like Molly was literally speaking my own thoughts out loud. So many random observations she made about little things had me going ‘YES, THIS!’, for example when she feels all awkward and anxious about two sets of people she knows from different places being at the same sleepover together. I have zero chill when it comes to situations like this either. I loved the way Molly’s anxiety was portrayed in this story so much; we saw her taking her medication, we saw her lying awake at night, thoughts churning round and round in her head, but we also saw Molly. Anxiety was not the only facet of her personality, and this book was not the story of her anxiety. I appreciated that so much. I find it so difficult to find representations of anxiety in books, unless the stories are specifically about anxiety. This one was realistic and relatable, and helped me connect with the idea that anxiety is not ALL there is to ME.

As well as being the fictional version of teenage me, Molly was hilarious and witty, and her narration made me laugh out loud so many times. It’s quite rare for books to ACTUALLY make me lol, so I bow down in worship to Becky Albertalli for making me continuously giggle throughout reading this book using words from her very own brain.

The romance in this book was super cute, and made me squeal, which is always the sign of a romantic storyline done well. I loved Reid (Will who?!), and I loved all of the dorky text messages full of in-jokes that he and Molly sent to each other. They reminded me of the messages me and my boyfriend send to each other; I always think that if anyone else were to read them, they’d think we were super-weird, but they make sense to us. Every scene containing Reid left me with a big sappy grin on my face (which was exactly my reaction to every Simon and Blue exchange in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda). Becky Albertalli builds romantic tension SO WELL, and has a gift for creating fluffy, happy, squealy feelings in the hearts and tummies of her readers.

I think the thing this book did BEST of all was its portrayal of family dynamics. Nadine and Patty, Molly’s parents, were BRILLIANT. For starters, they actually acted like parents, and noticed/got angry when their children drank alcohol at a sleepover (because, HELLO other YA books; parents get mad about this shit in real life, y’know? Take heed!) Something else I loved about Nadine and Patty was how much personality they had, and how much a part of the story they were. I read so many YA books that are rendered unrealistic by their glaringly obvious parent-shaped holes, so thank you, Becky Albertalli, for recognising that parents are a massive part of our lives: they comfort us when we’re down, they tell us off when we mess up, and they make us laugh, daily. Molly’s parents provided a lot of humour in this story: Nadine in particular was hilarious, and I loved her obsession with ‘compound curse-words’. Badass, sweary parents are one of my favourite things to encounter in a piece of literature, tbh.

The relationship between Cassie and Molly was also very well done. I loved the way this book explored what happens when someone close to you gets into a new relationship, and the way it can make you feel left behind, even if you are happy for them. Molly and Cassie’s relationship was complex, well written, sad at times, but also pretty wonderful. The sibling storyline in this book was perhaps an even more important love story than the romance. Plus, Cassie was a FABULOUS character. She was feisty, and funny, and confident; she was selfish a times, but she was human, and felt like a real, relatable person. I loved her.

Finally, I just wanted to say that I loved that Becky Albertalli wrote such a diverse cast of characters in this book, all of whom felt like real people, with vibrant, memorable personalities. I loved that there were so many LGBT characters in this book, and I loved that the book was set around the time when gay marriage was legalised in America. This book was an awesome, rainbow-filled celebration of that, and the way this historic event affected the plot made me so happy; it was all kinds of adorable.

I feel like I have used the words ‘loved’ and ‘adored’ so much in this review, but I speak the truth. I LOVED AND ADORED this book, I have nothing but good things to say about it, and I really think you should pick it up ASAP, so you can feel as happy as I did whilst reading it.

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21 responses to “‘The Upside of Unrequited’ by Becky Albertalli: a book which made me ridiculously happy! :):):)

  1. Nice review! I am totally with you on this one. This book made me so happy, too! 🙂

    • mudandstars says:

      Thanks Deanna! Yay I’m so glad it made you happy too – I enjoyed reading your review of the book. I need more happy books in my life! Do you have any recommendations? 😊

      • Thank you! Happy books…Kasie West’s writing always makes me happy. My favorite is probably On the Fence. Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You is another one of my favorites. Oh, and definitely Emma Mills’ books. 🙂

      • mudandstars says:

        Ahh thanks so much, I will check out Emery Lord and Emma Mills. I love Kasie West too! I’ve only read a couple of her books so I’ll have to check out the rest. 🙂

  2. Phew. I’m so happy this lived up to your expectations. I’ve seen so many reviews hating on it because they loved Simon vs and didn’t think this was as good. I think I actually preferred this to Simon vs.

    • mudandstars says:

      Ahh that’s such a shame – both are brilliant in my opinion! I think in a way I prefer this one too, just because I found Molly so relatable. Glad you felt the same way 😊

  3. Great review! I adored this book as well! 🙂

  4. Yay! I’m so glad you loved this book! I devoured it too! Great review!😄

    • mudandstars says:

      Thank you so much! 😀 I’m glad you felt the same way! I don’t read that many contemporaries, but when I find a really good one like this it makes me so happy 😊 Do you have any recommendations for books like this? I’m always on the lookout!

  5. Ooh I’ve seen a fair number of rave reviews for this and now I’m really excited to read it, cos I love the sound of it and I’m always looking for books like this! (Also I’ve wanted to read Simon for ages- I really should push it up my tbr!!)

    • mudandstars says:

      Ahh please do, it was wonderful! These books and the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy are my go-to happy books. I need more happy books in my life! And please please read Simon – it never fails to cheer me up. 😀

  6. Great review!! I love how you make it sound, and I’m tempted to add it to my list!!

    • mudandstars says:

      Thank you so much! Ahh please do – it was such a happy book. I don’t read many happy books really, but I should – they have such an impact on my mood. This was exactly what I needed 😊 hope you love it as much as I did if you decide to pick it up.

  7. Aww Jess! So happy you found this book that was so relatable. It sounds like it has so many wonderful things going for it: positive anxiety representation, diversity, relatable characters, positive family dynamics, etc. I’ve been hearing such wonderful things about this one. Lovely review my friend 🙂

    • mudandstars says:

      Thanks so much Amanda! Absolutely – and those are all things we need more of in YA books. It’s like Becky Albertalli answered the call of the community 😊 It was a wonderful book – would love to know what you think if you end up picking it up at some point!

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