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.
Initial thoughts: Quirky, witty and adorable. Becky Albertalli made me nostalgic for first loves and growing up. While I didn’t love it quite as much as Simon, I still absolutely recommend this touching YA coming of age story.
As the synopsis states, Molly Peskin-Suso is familiar with unrequited love (or crushes, really- but aren’t all teenagers overly dramatic?). She has had many, many crushes and has never really acted on them. She is awkward, unsure about herself and often feels like she is comparing herself to her more confident twin sister, Cassie. When Cassie gets a hip, cute girlfriend Molly feels like she is being left even further behind.
“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.”
Honestly, for the first 40% or so of this book, I was a bit skeptical. I wasn’t in love with Molly. I can’t exactly say why- she just annoyed and frustrated me more than I usually want in a main character. But then I realized that maybe that was part of the book. Molly is a seventeen-year-old teenager. She’s emotional, insecure, growing up and her relationship with her twin sister is rapidly changing. Everything is a big deal. And you know what? It is a big deal. Change is scary and unknown and Albertalli handles it beautifully. This book is obviously about more than unrequited love, its about growing up and self-acceptance and I really appreciated the message. There were aspects of Molly’s character that I absolutely related to. The carefulness, uncertainty and anxiety. I love how Molly constantly had these internal conversations with herself, always thinking about the worst possible outcome.
So, if this is a story about self-love and acceptance, why is the ending so neatly packaged with a nice love story? At first I didn’t want it end with a cutesy relationship but after thinking about it, I was happy with it. Why? Because first crushes, first kisses and first loves are such an influential part of growing up. The first time I fell in love and subsequently had my heart broken I learned so much about myself and I learned to love and feel confident in myself. Seeing Molly experience that with Reid for the first time made me so happy and I was smiling throughout all of their interactions. They were so cute!
Another aspect of this story I really enjoyed is that it took place in Simon-verse. Molly is Abby Suso’s cousin from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. I was so happy to see that Simon is alive and well in this book! Even though its a brief cameo, I love when authors have overlap between their characters. It makes it all seem more real (Colleen Hoover and Kasie West do it as well!)
This book, which I’m sure you have seen though all of the reviews, is wonderfully inclusive. It includes so many characters of different races, cultures and sexual orientations. I will admit, sometimes the diversity aspect felt a bit forced (a bit like a laundry list of everything needed in a diverse book) but in the end, I’m not complaining because we need more books like this in the YA community.
This was another great book by Becky Albertalli! She is a talented author with a very relatable writing style. She does a wonderful job of capturing those very real feelings growing up- the first loves but also the many awkward moments and insecurity. I hope you all get a chance to read this book soon!