Finally! A Fat Girl in YA Written Without Stereotypes: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Finally! A Fat Girl in YA Written Without Stereotypes: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky AlbertalliThe Upside of Unrequited
by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: January 1st 1970
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Format: eARC
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Source: ARC received for review purposes

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. 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. 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 a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of my favorite books of all time. I was nervous about reading The Upside of Unrequited since it has some big shoes to fill after the brilliance of Simon. While I can’t say that this one is better than Simon, I can most definitely say that Albertalli has written yet another very real, sweet and touching story.

There’s lots going on in The Upside of Unrequited, and there’s especially lots to like, but where the author really shines at is her characterizations. YA contemporaries are typically character-driven books, so when I go in, I expect the characters to be the focal part, and that is exactly what I got here. Molly was refreshing as a protagonist. She’s fat, she’s flawed and she’s just so relatable. I saw a lot of my teen self in her and her hopes and sorrows, and I think she’s the sort of character who will speak to a lot of teens. We’ve all been Molly at one point or another with our unrequited crushes! There’s something absolutely positive about her attitude and while she makes some bumpy mistakes here and there, she really learns to grow and become comfortable with herself. As I mentioned, Molly is fat and what I liked best about that was how the author does not make that the focus of her personality. She was crafty, friendly and just an all-around genuine girl, so definitely not the stereotype you see associated with fat girls in most YA.

Though The Upside of Unrequited was told through Molly’s voice, its secondary characters also featured as heavily as Molly throughout the book. I particularly loved Molly’s twin sister, Cassie, and their sibling relationship. They are close with one another, and I loved the scenes of them confiding in each other, and just generally being supportive of each other. It was sweet and reminded me a lot of my own relationship with my sister. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however. You start to see a bit of a strain in their relationship as Cassie finds love, which I thought was another realistic aspect of the book. I also really loved Molly’s moms, who were funny, and all-around awesome parents. Molly’s relationship with her mothers made my heart so happy. I absolutely love seeing parents featuring heavily in books, and Molly’s moms were definitely involved in most aspects of her life.

I initially thought the romance in The Upside of Unrequited would be a little bit triangley, but it’s very obvious who steals Molly’s heart from the start. Honestly, I’d say the only reason she even interacted with the other guy, was because of Cassie playing matchmaker. From their first meeting, Reid and Molly’s connection was obvious. They were both a little awkward, but so cute together. Reid was a total sweetheart of a dork, and I loved all the scenes between him and Molly, especially once they got together as a couple! I wanted more!

The Upside of Unrequited is a great sophomore novel for Becky Albertalli. It’s a sweet and charming story that spotlights growing up, friendship and family. This is a book you need in your TBR!

Have you read either of Becky Albertalli’s books?
Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Ellie

    I loved Simon vs., but I’ve been a little hesitant about picking up this book. You may have just convinced me, however!

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    • I can understand, but give it a try! 🙂

  • I have so much love for this book and Molly. <3

    • I predicted that way before you read it! 😉

  • I loved this one so much. It was right there with Simon for me and I think that had a lot to do with Molly. Loved her so much!! I will definitely read anything Becky Albertalli writes!!

    • Molly was really really great. I’m so glad you liked it too, Grace!

  • kindlemom1

    Love this Nick, I so need to get it.

    • I hope you love it!

  • Egad. Why didn’t I pick this up this weekend? Totally saw it but I hadn’t read too many reviews about it so I didn’t want to risk it. I love Molly already! Can’t wait to meet these characters!

    • Oh no, missed opportunity! I hope you go back and get it. 🙂

  • I love your review! I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. I’m already ready for a reread.

  • I have had bad luck with YA books lately. I should stick with the lit fic versions and not go for the shiny fantasy ones

    • Yes, I agree. YA fantasy hasn’t been all that great lately, but contemporary has been terrific.

  • Better than Simon?! Does not compute 🙂 I cannot wait to start reading this one when I finish Fireworks!

    • No, I don’t think it’s better than Simon, but it’s still a good book. Hope you enjoy it!

  • That’s great that this was not a let down. Sophomore books are tricky, huh? I still have read Simon, but I really want it. I feel like that’s the story of my life, though. I keep meaning to read all these books but . . .

    • Haha I totally get it. There are so many books I want to read, I just don’t know where to start.

  • I have heard only rave reviews about this book, I can`t wait to pick it up (on my next bookstore trip). There`s so much diversity in this book, one can only hope that more writers will follow the lead.

    • It deserves all the rave. I hope you love it Georgiana.

  • I absolutely love the sound of this one Nick and while I haven’t read Simon I do want to pick this one up. I love that so many authors now are creating realistic protagonists. Girls that are nerdy, shy, have hangups about their bodies. I’m sick of the default being slim, gorgeous and wanted by every guy that comes in contact with her. The sisterly bond is what appeals to me most. I love sisters in YA with close, positive relationships. Wonderful review Nick and thrilled you loved this one <3 <3

    • Oh you would adore Simon, Kelly. It’s a sweet book and this was sweet as well. Yeah, it gets old real fast, so it was refreshing to see a bigger girl here. I hope you’ll read and love it too, Kelly.

  • This sounds great. It is reminding me of that book I read this past fall that featured an overweight protagonist, I know you read it, the one where they cut her out of her house…. anyone, I am always ready to cheer for the underdog.

    • Ah yes I read that one though this was better in my opinion. 🙂

  • FJKDLSJF;LKADF CUTENESS. EXPLOSION. I MUST pick this one soon (I’m honestly so behind on both books and blogs because – LIFE!), and it’s definitely on my TBR for this month. I love relatable characters in contemporary books, as well as the presence of parents. Albertalli does it again with a genuine, heartfelt novel! Yay for fat girls! I’ve ALWAYS had a problem with my weight (my dad always brings up my BMI index which is not low okay) and I’m really happy to be seeing more overweight characters in normal settings – without shaming or stereotyping or undergoing massive weight loss – in Young Adult lit. Love the review, cannot wait for the book.

    – Aila @ One Way Or An Author

    • YOU MUST! Ditch real life I say! 😉
      I know what that feels like, Aila. I’ve had my weight constantly brought up too as I was growing up, so it’s really nice that we’re getting to see heavier characters in YA too. Everyone deserves love and good things, not just thin people!
      Thanks, Aila.

  • I have read Simon VS and I loved it! And it was the cutest! I am currently reading Upside and it’s so cute already and I’m only 50 pages in! I love the characters so much and the idea is so amazing!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    • I’m happy to hear you’re liking it, Anisha! The characters are amazing.

  • Dude, I still need to read Simon. I have it, but … you know how it is. Molly sounds like a great character, and refreshing for YA.

    • What are you doing with your life???? You have to read Simon!

  • Jazmen Greene


  • The praises for this book are high! I have yet to read Simon and I know I need to pick it up. I’ve been more drawn to this one, though. I’m even more interested in the moms!! Lovely review, Nick!
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

    • Simon was amazing. You should totally read it.

  • After reading this review, I’m even more excited to give this one a try. I have it on my wishlist for now, but I’m planning on buying it sooner or later. lol! I haven’t read anything from the author yet, but I just recently bought Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I’m really excited to pick that one up soon. Great review, Nick!

    • I can’t wait for you to read it, Julie. And omg you will adore Simon!

  • Rummanah Aasi

    Can’t wait to read this one since I loved Simon so much! Great review!

    • I hope you love it as much as Simon! 🙂

  • I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book! I just read another review a few minutes ago that was full of praise. One of the first things I checked for was to see if she mentioned anything about a love triangle, because the synopsis definitely screams love triangle. I’m glad there wasn’t one. 😀 And it sounds like this book really worked overall, especially with discussion of a lot of social issues. Good for Albertalli for writing an excellent book.

    Fantastic review, Nick! Have a wonderful weekend. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • Yeah it really wasn’t a triangle at all. It’s super obvious who is end game and who she likes best. Thanks, Alyssa.

  • I’m ashamed to say that I have not met Simon. I’ve seen him everywhere, but I have yet to introduce myself. I had no idea that the same author wrote this book. I think I may as well add them both to my book haul list for next month. After not liking Dumplin’, I need a good story with a “fat girl” heroine. We need more of this!

  • I’ve not read Simon (my bad, I plan to borrow it from the library soon) but I do have an ARC of this sat on my Kindle which I’ve not read! I will make it my next read for certain now. I love there is a strong family aspect to it both with molly’s relationship with her twin, no matter how tense it may get, as well as having totally present parents. I love YA that actually has parents play a strong role because my parents did for me.

  • Like Becky, I haven’t read Simon either….the shame! I’m planning to read Simon and Upside back to back this summer though, because they just scream “summer time happy reads” to me. So relieved to hear that there’s no love triangle action in this one, and it’s awesome to know that this one has a ton of diversity too!