Hello, everyone! This week I have two early summer releases to share my thoughts on. These books where ones I couldn't wait to get my hands on, and they didn't disappoint. As you can see in the picture below, the second book this week will be Definitions of Indefinable Things. These were both good reads with similar themes. Later this week, I will also be posting an early review of A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck on Friday!
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (340 pages)
Overview: This is one of those books where the summary really doesn't do it justice. While a combination of the hype and the summary got me in the door, it focused to heavily on one small part of this book that had many more compelling themes at its heart. There is quite a bit of conflict about never having had a boyfriend and putting herself out there, I found the parts I enjoyed the book because of the storylines drawn from growing up and a fear of the changes it brings, family, the ebb and flow of body insecurity, and coping with anxiety and the challenges it brings. Even with this supposed conflict about whether to pursue Reid or Will, it is evident she struggles more with choosing what her heart wants or what she thinks will keep her close to her twin sister. Overall: 4.5
Characters: 5 I loved the characters in this story. Each seemed authentic, fleshed out, and purposeful. But as the book progressed, I really fell in love with how Molly's character was written. Molly has so much nuance to her character, and she never was just one thing. This made her extremely relatable. She has wavering insecurities about her body, but it never becomes a book about a fat girl. She had never been kissed before the book, but she is never just some lovesick, nerd girl. She has anxiety, but that's not all she is; it impacted her life heavily in small ways that added up and factored into each decision. Often when authors try to address issues like these, it becomes the singular identity of the character. Molly avoided this and feels entirely real.
Plot: 4 The plot was engaging and served the purpose of Molly's character evolution, but I never found it terribly remarkable. It kept it light and fun.
Writing: 4.5 I have to admit, for all the gushing I did above, I didn't always love Molly. She really grew into her character, introducing more complexity in the second half of the book. While sometimes she just had an odd, overly-dramatized feel, there were more moments when I connected to her feelings on a deep level I rarely find. It was definitely a book where the longer it sits and digests in my brain, the more appreciation I have for it. The story was a light and happy one, and until I read this book, my brain had some doubt about how impactful a book could be if it was written in this tone. I have realized I was wrong as I finished this book feeling both touched and warm and fuzzy. While some parts I feel were a bit overplayed, I think any teenage girl should read this book just as affirmation that "Hey, you're not alone," or "Yes, that's a normal feeling" in many respects.
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