For anyone who has ever felt just slightly out of place in a world where society dictates how we must look, what we must like, and who we must love in order to fit in, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli breaks the mold. For Albertalli’s protagonist, Molly Peskin-Suso, this is a life she is painfully familiar with. As a self-proclaimed ‘fat girl’, Molly has lived a life of unrequited crushes on many boys but has lacked the self-confidence to follow through on any of the 27 crushes she has accumulated in her lifetime. But things start to change when Molly gets a new job and finds herself befriending the Tolkien loving, renaissance-fair-going Reid Wertheim.
The Upside of Unrequited is a story for any young person who has ever struggled to find where they belong in a world that tells them they have no place in a world of ‘normal’. Albertalli challenges her readers to define normal by writing a family that is not the standard ‘Mom and Dad plus kids’. Instead the reader gets a glimpse into a life where two women of different ethnicities are raising their children to be better than those that came before them. Albertalli doesn’t shy away from the topics of homophobia or racism, making sure that her readers understand that just because society deems you lesser than, it doesn’t mean that’s the truth.
Beyond covering some of today’s issues, Albertalli gives the reader a love story that in this librarian’s honest opinion is better than Romeo & Juliet. With The Upside of Unrequited you get all of the drama of a Shakespearean play without the gratuitous death (or having to suffer through Old English). So, if you find yourself sheltering inside during a snowy day and you’re wondering what you should be reading, look no further than Becky Albertalli’s newest novel.