The Upside of Unrequited

Becky Alber­tal­li
  • Review
By – June 20, 2018

Sev­en­teen-year-old Mol­ly Peskin-Suso has been in love twen­ty-six times, but nev­er pur­sues her crush­es for fear of rejec­tion. Mol­ly feels inse­cure in the shad­ow of her twin sis­ter, Cassie, who seems to have an eas­i­er time with rela­tion­ships. Although Cassie advis­es Mol­ly to woman up,” Mol­ly remains self-con­scious and self-dep­re­cat­ing about her weight and her anx­i­ety. When Cassie begins to pull away from Mol­ly to spend time with her new girl­friend, Mina, Mol­ly wor­ries their bond is break­ing. Then Cassie has the idea to set up Mol­ly with Mina’s best friend, Will. Mol­ly is intrigued, but grows con­flict­ed when she begins to fall for Reid, her nerdy cowork­er at a gift shop called Bissel.

The sto­ry fea­tures char­ac­ters of var­i­ous eth­nic­i­ties, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tions, reli­gions and races. Alber­tal­li’s writ­ing is laced with wit­ty ban­ter and con­tem­po­rary details and sub­plots. The book includes a con­sid­er­able amount of cul­tur­al Jew­ish con­tent. Mol­ly embraces her Jew­ish iden­ti­ty in a way that will be relat­able for many teens. For exam­ple, when she dis­cov­ers Reid is Jew­ish, Mol­ly mus­es, I don’t think of myself as super Jew­ish or any­thing, and I basi­cal­ly nev­er go to syn­a­gogue. But there’s this thing I feel when I meet anoth­er Jew­ish per­son in the wild. It’s like a secret invis­i­ble high five.”

Read­ers famil­iar with Alber­tal­li’s nov­els Simon vs. the Homo Sapi­ens Agen­da and Leah on the Off­beat will enjoy the over­lap­ping characters.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 15 and up.

Jil­lian Bietz stud­ied library tech­nol­o­gy and research skills and cur­rent­ly works in the library sys­tem. She is a book review­er for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and Kirkus Review Indie. Jil­lian lives in South­ern California.

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