I’ve been curious about Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited for a while, and after hearing great things about it — along with her other book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda — I decided to give it a shot. I was intrigued by the story, as well as the many, many reviews I read that praised its diversity and swoon-worthy-yet-not-cheesy romance. It sounded like the perfect book to include in my month of contemporaries!
Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis in my August TBR post! 🙂
What I Liked: I think the question should really be what didn’t I like? Because this book was wow. Really wow. ❤️ Albertalli drops you into this world, with these distinct, dynamic characters, and it all feels so real. Like I could go to Takoma Park and have dinner with the Peskin-Susos, eat cheesecake with Molly, Cassie, and Mina, paint pottery (and maybe get some blue streaks of my own) with Olivia, talk Game of Thrones with Reid… By the end of the book, I didn’t want to leave them behind. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before made me feel like I was back in high school, but this book made me feel like I was crushing on a boy all over again. The descriptions of those pleasurable-and-yet-also-panic-inducing feelings are perfect, and even though the reader sort of knows from the start that Molly is going to fall for Reid, watching them grow closer to one another (The cookie dough! The texts! That first kiss! 😍) is too freakin’ adorable.
What I Disliked: Honestly, nothing. I couldn’t put this book down. Much like Fangirl, I stayed up way too late reading it, and then I spent half of the next day finishing it. I’ve seen some criticism about the plot — or, rather, lack of plot — but I was totally fine with the focus being more on the characters’ relationships and less on external events or situations. And yeah, I wasn’t a huge fan of Cassie, or even Will. But I think it’s important to remember that they’re teenagers, and bad decisions and bad attitudes are par for the course. (And this is something I’ll try to keep in mind re: Peter K. in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I promise. 😅)
Here’s something I’ve realized about myself: I do not miss teenage drama. When you’re a teenager, everything is a big deal. Like, an end-of-the-world kind of big deal. And trust me, I’ve definitely been there. But when you hit your 20’s and 30’s, it all seems so… unnecessary. And exhausting. And occasionally very, very embarrassing. Here’s a quick example that I’ll probably regret, but OH WELL. I wrote a love letter to a guy — who happened to be a senior football player — when I was a freshman in high school. And I GAVE IT TO HIM. This wasn’t even a Lara Jean situation, with me keeping my love letter in a super-secret, private place, never meant to see the light of day. I gave it to him. And he shared it with his friends. And I was teased about it for the rest of the year. And I pretty much thought my life was over. (Spoiler: It wasn’t.) After I graduated and began teaching freshman college classes, I found myself thinking, Wow! Don’t they realize that [INSERT SMALL, SEEMINGLY-RIDICULOUS THING HERE] isn’t even going to matter five years from now? Or maybe even one year from now? But that’s the thing. When you’re a teenager, everything is either the best or the worst, and small things can be huge, earth-shattering things, and your emotions are on this constant, vomit-inducing roller coaster ride that you can’t stop even if you try. So… I get it. I do. But I’m so glad that I’m done with it.*
*If you, dear reader, are a teenager, please know that life gets better after high school. And also after college! I may have to pay lots of bills every month and do boring things like taxes and scrubbing my kitchen cabinets. But I can also go out whenever I want (or stay in all day!), eat cheap pizza and wings for dinner, and buy cheese cubes and wine and pretend to be a fancy lady while sitting in my pajamas and binge-watching something on Netflix. What I’m trying to say is, being a grown-ass adult is pretty cool. So hang in there. 😁