Tuesday, 24 October 2017

#33 A book you can finish in a day


The Upside of Unrequited  - Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli became hugely popular after the publication of her debut fiction - first book Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (havn't read it yet). This is her highly anticipated second novel. It doesn’t disappoint! It is a light, refreshing and diverse read.

The story centers around Molly Peskin-Suso , a 17 year old who has had 26 crushes so far but no first kiss or a boyfriend. So she knows a lot about unrequited love. However, things start changing with two boys coming into the picture – the awkward Tolkien fan Reid and the incredibly good-looking Will who both seem to be the perfect love interest for Molly. It may seem like a typical teenage romance – it is …. in a way – but there were a lot of refreshing differences.

First of all this book has a LOT of diversity - skin colour, sexuality, gender identity, religion, body size, mental health – it’s all there. Molly and her twin Cassie have two moms – Patty and Nadine. They have a baby brother Xavier. Cassie has a girlfriend Mina (who is a Korean American) , Molly is of the Jewish faith but isn’t religious, she is on medication for panic attacks – I suppose you get the picture. It was interesting to read a very honest and heartfelt tale of so many concerns albeit in a light-hearted manner.

There are many winning attributes to this book. Beginning with the protagonist Molly, who is very likeable, and the fact that many of anxieties and concern seems exactly what a teenager might go through. He anxiety about her looks and her social awkwardness however doesn’t cover up the fact that she is really smart and creative, and extremely nice.

Another great thing about the book was how it deals with the relationship between the sisters Molly and Cassie. When Cassie starts getting involved with Mina, Molly feels left out. Her coming to terms with how they drift apart is sad and heart-felt but at the same time is beautifully explained. The pains of growing up, of  having different interests, of coming to accept who you are, being comfortable in your own skin – all these are deftly dealt with. There were also a lot of lines which were insightful and funny at the same time.

“Perfect! You guys are the same age. I bet you have a lot in common.”
Classic adult logic. Reid and I are vaguely the same age, so of course we’re basically soul mates. It’s like horoscopes. Somehow I’m supposed to believe that I’m similar in some meaningful way to every single person born on my birthday. Or every single Sagittarius. I mean, I barely have anything in common with Cassie, and we were born six minutes apart.”

It is a reflection of the times that it has a lot of SMS communications , Skype chats, discussion of popular songs and even few swear words thrown in for good measure. It is a light-hearted read, and if we ask too many questions it may fall apart (so I am not going to!) but, it is definitely readable.


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