Review Blog

Jun 07 2017

The upside of unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Penguin Books, 2017. ISBN 9780141356112
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Non-identical twins who couldn't be more unalike will ultimately grow apart - as all siblings must when their adult worlds expand. That's basically the gist of this readable romance in a nutshell. However arriving at this painful realization is not without some angst and laughter. Albertalli describes a variety of modern relationships and teaches us that friendship is the foundation of love, not physical attraction.
Molly is a late bloomer by comparison to her outgoing twin. Cassie is blonde, green-eyed, willowy . . . and gay. Whereas our narrator is a brown-eyed, chubby brunette who has never kissed a boy despite having an inordinate number of unrequited crushes on the opposite sex. Living with an anxiety disorder is no fun and Molly's stream of consciousness supplies heaps of insights.
When Cassie meets Mina, Molly is positioned to 'hook up' with one of Mina's friends, Will. He's attractive and it makes sense to get closer to him in order not to lose Cassie completely, given he is Mina's best friend. But Molly's summer job means she is spending a lot of time with Reid, who, actually seems to be attracted to her - for a change. Who will she choose?
Cousins and friends extend the teenage worlds of both sisters but their own nuclear family consists of a baby brother, Xavier and two Jewish mothers - Patty and Nadine. When the same-sex marriage law is passed, Patty and Nadine announce their intention to marry as soon as possible. Crafty Molly is asked to take charge of the decorations. The upcoming nuptials heighten tensions between the sisters, who are both grappling with their first serious relationship. Will there be happy endings for everyone?
Readers will delight in Albertalli's clever dialogue and text messages to track the complexities of both love and friendship in this cosmopolitan family.
Deborah Robins

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