Author: Becky Albertalli
Genres: Young Adult
Read: July 2017
This was a cute book and it definitely surpassed my expectations. I thought it sounded a bit juvenile when I read the synopsis, but it was just so relatable! I have almost nothing in common with Molly, who is a twin, has two moms, a bi-racial family, and is fat, and yet I could totally remember what it was like being a teenager and thinking everyone has grown up and left you behind.
Molly’s the only one in her friend group who has never kissed anyone, but it never really bothered her until her twin sister, Cassie, gets her first girlfriend and Molly begins to feel like she’s been left behind. She’s had dozens of crushes over the years and Molly desperately wants a boyfriend, but she’s afraid to put herself out there and what people might think of her.
Every little thing matters when you’re a teenager. Your friends are your lifeline and the most important people in the world to you. But teenagers are really bad at balancing friends and boyfriends/girlfriends and I could absolutely relate to Molly’s fears that she was slowly losing her sister. Your romantic partner does eventually become the most important person in your life, but when only half of a friendship is having the experience of falling in love, it can be really hard to watch and it can make you feel really lonely.
It can also make you feel really uncomfortable when the people around you are having their first sexual experiences and you can’t relate with them. I liked that Albertalli addressed that a lot of teenagers exaggerate their sexual experiences to try and fit in. Molly felt so out of her depth when her friends started talking about sex and Reid expresses that he thinks half of them are just making things up to fit in. Molly is surprised to learn later that even though Cassie’s girlfriend Mina talked a big game, Cassie was the first person she had ever had any kind of romantic relationship with.
There was a lot going on in this novel and the sister relationship reminded me a little of Fangirl, but healthier. It’s a quick read and I enjoyed watching Molly grow and how her relationships changed. I could see people being upset that she ultimately resolves her issues by finding love (why couldn’t she just love herself?), but I thought that Molly actually did love herself already and that she needed to believe that other people could love her too. There was no antagonizing over how she was fat and trying to lose weight – she loved to eat and generally seemed happy with her body. It was more that she was worried that society tells us that fat girls are unlovable and that boys wouldn’t be able to see beyond her weight to who she actually is.
Side note, I also loved that Molly took medication for anxiety, but that it wasn’t part of the story. There wasn’t a sub-plot about her overcoming anxiety, she just takes medication and that helps her, end of story. Overall, I thought this was a sweet, coming-of-age story that had a ton of diversity! I know everyone is obsessed with Albertalli’s other book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but I actually found that one a little heavy handed and preferred the Upside of Unrequited!