The Upside of Unrequited

Balzer + Bray  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.

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