The Upside of Unrequited


The Upside of Unrequited GLBT

3 out of 5 stars

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  • Self-Involved Much?

    3 out of 5

    Written by , Posted on at 3:50:05 PM

    Ms. Albertalli wrote “Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda”, a novel about a fearful homosexual teen who was in hiding about his sexual orientation. From there, she swings to the other end of the social spectrum. Twins Mina and Cassie are completely accepting of their two moms and the fierce love that lies between them. As far as Mina and Cassie are concerned, these are their parents, little baby Xavier is their brother. They’re neither militant or defensive or nervous about it. Instead, Mina has other concerns. Mina is self-conscious about her body, since she’s a chubby girl—well, let’s face it, fat. But it’s not her body that bothers her very often as what she views as the imminent separation from her lovesick twin sister Cassie. She’s also hungry to get a boyfriend, mainly because she’s worried she’ll be the last person she knows to hook up with someone. So far, just your typical adolescent. The novel gives us Mina’s constant worried thoughts, from whether she cares about being fat to what to do with her hands at a particular junction. She’s so caught up in her own interior life that some passages read almost like stream-of-consciousness inner babble. She doesn’t really know her own mind and vacillates from a positive to negative response to the same stimuli almost in the same moment. She and the others around her also overuse the word “weird” but that seems to be a staple of modern YA novels. At least at the end, she switches to the word “stranger” (as a comparative to “strange”). So there’s hope for the future of literary adolescent verbiage, yes? However, the bottom line is that we get to know Mina intimately and grow to like her (even when she’s sniping at her sister or at a boy she’s supposed to like). She’s got an artistic bent even if she doesn’t quite see it as such. She finds and kisses the boy she wants and attends her mothers’s wedding when same-sex marriage finally becomes legal. Interestingly enough, Ms. Albertalli makes that political change secondary. The ladies accept it and then they move to get married and it’s the wedding preparations that capture our attention. This novel is topical, accepting and poles apart from “Simon”, proving that Ms. Albertalli is capable of taking opposing standpoints and crafting fine novels from them. I look forward to future novels from this talented author.