My rating in stars: 4 stars
My rating in words: I really liked it!
What it’s about:
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.
My thoughts (spoiler-free):
“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.”
Well, this was just an absolutely adorable, cute and relatable story that is perfect to read in one sitting or to help you get rid of a reading slump. Which makes this two wins for Becky Albertalli and definitely made her an auto-buy author for me! Need some more convincing? Here’s a list of everything to love about it!
The diversity! Oh, the diversity! This was just so exquisitely done and I feel like every book should be written like this. I mean, we have here lesbian characters, a pansexual character, (minor) gay characters, black characters, a bi-racial character, Jewish characters, underrepresented body types and anxiety rep. Also, Molly has two moms. Which is all great, but the best part is that it all feels super natural. None of these characters felt written in just to be able to tick off a box. I adored this so, so much and can only applaud it and ask for more!
Molly. Molly not only felt like such a relatable character, but also like a real teenage girl. Sure, she has her flaws, but she also reminded me so much of me at her age. Her huge amount of crushes (one of which is Lin-Manuel Miranda, which is just adorable and amazing and made me smile so badly), her insecurities about her body or about being left behind felt so real. And even though she has her insecurities, she’s also who she is and doesn’t just take any crap, which was just inspiring.
The family scenes. Especially Molly’s two moms. They were just so present and cared for their kids so, so much and I loved every little scene where one or both of them had a talk with their kids. They also felt so fleshed-out and developed, not just your standard YA parent, which I loved.
The Abby and Simon cameos. I loved that this story crossed over a bit with the Simon story, in that Molly and Abby are cousins and we get a lot of Abby here as well. But my favorites were of course the small Simon cameos which immediately brought back that Simon-induced smile. Though they are of course two separate stories, I would still recommend reading Simon before reading The Upside, if only because the cameos would be pretty meaningless if you don’t.
The food appreciation. Let’s be honest here – though romance is cute and all and a lot of us can relate to unrequited crushes, I think we can ALL appreciate good food. I don’t know why I love reading about people loving food (in this case, mostly Cadbury mini eggs), but it’s true: food love makes me swoon.
Though I must admit – even though I loved this, I also wasn’t as over the moon in love with this as I had hoped or even already expected. Why that is, I can’t 100% accurately pin-point. Overall, I just enjoyed this less than Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is why I gave it one star less. Mostly, I think this was because I couldn’t quite connect to the side characters. I did love Molly and related to her intensely, but some of the other characters felt just a tiny bit underdeveloped to me. I liked Reid, but I wish we had more scenes with him and just got to know him better. Same with Mina, Will and Olivia. And some side characters, like Cassie or Max, I just didn’t really like at all (sorry!).
Though, that is me nitpicking here. Because seriously, this story was not only cute and adorable, but also super relatable and diverse. The perfect read for when you’re looking to get out of a reading slump or even when you’re just looking for something to read a day away with.
“There’s just something terrifying about admitting you like someone. In a way, it’s actually easier when there’s no chance of anything happening. But there’s this threshold where things suddenly become possible. And then your cards are on the table. And there you are, wanting, right out in the open.”
“And it’s a little different with every guy, so it’s kind of hard to generalize—but if I had to describe the feeling of a crush, I’d say this: you just finished running a mile, and you have to throw up, and you’re starving, but no food seems appealing, and your brain becomes fog, and you also have to pee. It’s this close to intolerable. But I like it.”
“And suddenly, I feel like crying, but not in a bad way. More like in the way you feel when someone gives you a perfect present—something you’d been wanting, but thought you couldn’t ask for. It’s that feeling of someone knowing you in all the ways you needed to be known.”