Author: Becky Albertalli
Read: July 2018
I loved this book. More than Simon vs the Homo sapiens’ Agenda. Just letting you all know. If you want to know my thoughts on that book, you can read my review here.
I don’t actually have much to say about this book. I just loved it. Honestly. I don’t think I’ve ever related more to a character than I did while reading The Upside of Unrequited. Our MC is fat and insecure and I related to that. I’ve struggled with my weight and my self-confidence for most of my life. I had trouble accepting myself for who I was, and I liked seeing that struggle in a character that I could relate to.
Molly is me, except I still don’t have a boyfriend.
As I said in my Simon vs review, my favorite thing about Becky’s books are the characters. I love them. They’re so real and authentic. I feel so connected to all of Becky’s characters and I’m always left wanting more! I love the family in this novel. Molly’s moms were so sweet and fun and I loved them. I loved their relationship and their love for their kids. Cassie, Molly’s twin sister, kind of annoyed me in this book.
After finishing the book, I read somewhere that The Upside of Unrequited is based off of Emma by Jane Austen and Clueless, the “modern” movie adaptation of the book, but from the perspective of Harriet/Tai and the relationship with Robert Martin/Travis. It made a lot of sense after that. (I’ve never read Emma, but I’ve seen the movie adaptation as well as Clueless. I could see the similarities.) Knowing the characters that Cassie is based off of, I could understand her a little better, but she still annoyed me.
I didn’t like the way Cassie came off as thinking that she was better or more mature than Molly just because Molly had never had a boyfriend. I have three older sisters, I know what it’s like to have people who constantly think they know what’s best for you and want to tell you what to do. It just rubbed me the wrong way, the way Cassie seemed to think she knew what was best for Molly, and pushing something on Molly that she didn’t seem to want that much. At first, I liked Cassie and the way the sisters interacted with each other, but eventually I just got tired of her.
Still, I love the secondary characters and relationships. Everything about the way Becky Albertalli writes characters is what makes me love her novels so much. I love the queer representation that Becky includes in her novels. She tells such beautiful and sweet stories and I fall in love every time.
I think I only have one problem with her books and it’s that they feel very white. While I love the representation when it comes to queer characters and the romances, most of her characters are white. In this book, Molly and Cassie are sperm donor children. They have two moms: Patty and Nadine. Patty is their biological mother and Nadine is the biological mother of Xavier, their half-brother (because they both used the same donor). Nadine is a POC and Xavier is mixed-race. So, I know that there are POC characters in the book, but they are always secondary. Molly is the white MC, Cassie is her white sister, she has a white friend, two white suitors, one white mom, one POC mom, one POC brother, one POC cousin. Yes, I know that there are POC characters in the book, but they’re so few. And I want to see more diversity of…diversity? If that makes sense.
So far, Becky’s books feature white main characters. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Becky Albertalli is a white author, so it might be that she’s not comfortable writing characters’ experiences that she personally doesn’t have. If that’s the case, then it wouldn’t bother me as much. (I get it, don’t feel pressure to write something that you think you won’t do right.) But white authors can write POC characters, and POC authors can write white characters.
I’d love to see more diversity represented in her novels, rather than just the queer rep. (Which I love. Please don’t come at me for saying this.) I’m a Mexican reader. I’d like to see more of Becky Albertalli’s writing style and romances including more POC characters. That’s all I’m saying. That’s something that I’ve noticed after reading two of her books. I really love her books and I wish I could find an author whose characters and stories give me the same feels while also representing me. (If you have recommendations, please please please leave them below!)
That being said, I am super excited (so, so, so excited) for What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. I know that Adam is a POC and is queer and I am so excited to read about his characters. (I’ve never read anything by Adam Silvera, but I know that his characters are queer POC and I am here for it.) So, maybe my problem will be fixed after I read What If It’s Us? It comes out in October and it sounds like it’s going to check all of my boxes.
Okay now that I’m done with my mini rant, I think I’ll finish up this review here. I love this book. It was one of my favorite books I read this year! I love Becky Albertalli’s writing style and her beautiful creations. I’m looking forward to reading more from her! (Hopefully with even more diversity?)
What do you think about the characters in Albertalli’s books? I know everyone sees things differently, but what do you think about it? Talk to me down in the comments!