Home decor and DIY queen Molly Peskin-Suso can easily recreate Pinterest recipes and put together a product display that would be perfectly at home on Etsy. However, she’s also dealing with a host of teenage anxieties — like how she’s on her 27th crush but still nowhere near being kissed.
Usually, she’d have her cousin Abby, best friend Olivia, and twin sister, Cassie, to turn to for support. But Abby’s moved away, Olivia’s in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend, and Cassie seems to be drifting away as she falls more in love with her latest girlfriend Mina. In fact, Cassie’s so distracted that she hasn’t noticed that Molly isn’t very interested in Will, the guy she and Mina are trying to set her up with, as she may be in her co-worker Reid, he of the Game of Thrones T-shirts and fun supermarket shopping games.
Upside of Unrequited is easily Becky Albertalli’s most personal work yet. While first kisses, first loves, and even first sexual experiences have all been dealt with in some form or another, she tackles these big milestones head-on and with aplomb, really digging into the anxiety that comes with feeling like your friends may be moving past you in terms of experience (both romantic and sexual), but not being able to talk to them about that because of what feels like a growing distance between you. This, coupled with her exploration of Molly’s worries about her own weight, results in a character that is not only immensely relatable but also feels real — whether you’ve had 26 crushes or not. B+