Release Date: 11th April 2017
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. Right?
It’s taken me almost a month to completely gather my thoughts on this book, but I think I’m finally done, so get ready for some *potentially* unpopular opinions, that may leave you saying this:
I want to start by saying I absolutely love Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and Becky Albertalli’s writing overall – I think she writes contemporary with such a good mixture and balance of humour, diversity, serious issues and fluff. So when I heard her new book was going to feature an overweight teenager as the protagonist (something I can personally relate to), it would be an understatement to say I was excited for this book!
I don’t believe it’s fair for me to compare this to Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, so I wont, but that doesn’t change the fact I have a few issues with this story and that it ultimately left me feeling disappointed.
The beginning was promising and I fell in love with Molly straight away, but as the book progressed I slowly lost that spark as I began to realise the only characteristic of Molly’s that is ever addressed is how ‘woeful‘ her poor poor love life is, just because she’s never been kissed or had a boyfriend. How people can say this book doesn’t enforce the idea that having a boyfriend fixes your problems is just beyond me, unfortunately!
One thing that really annoyed me to read was the way the majority of characters treated Molly, particularly her sister Cassie. UGH, their relationship made me so angry and frustrated. I thought Cassie was horrible, treated Molly like crap, and was just a nasty, selfish character.
I think this in turn sent a lot of mixed messages that were then never clarified. The theme went along the lines of: Cassie is absolutely horrible to Molly, Molly gets upset but takes it and then Cassie never apologises. Some of the things Cassie said were terrible, and although I didn’t love Molly’s character, I was definitely protective over her so having Cassie never apologise, it felt like it was just letting the horrible things she said slide.
“You know I’d never laugh at you about Mina, right?”
“No, I know. It’s just.” She shuts her eyes. “Like, I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a dick, but, like, maybe it’s just one of those things you won’t understand until you get a boyfriend.”
Cassie then goes on to ignore the fact that Molly is rightfully hurt by what she’s said, makes it all about her, and then ignores Molly to go after her girlfriend.
“Like, this whole Molly thing with the secret crushes that go nowhere. I’m over it.”
“Oh, you’re over it?” My throat tightens. “Uh, I’m sorry boys don’t like me.”
“That is such bullshit, Molly. You don’t even talk to them.” Here we go. Cassie’s soapbox: the fact that I’ve had twenty-six crushes and exactly zero kisses. Apparently, it’s because I need to woman up. If I like a guy, I’m supposed to tell him. Maybe in Cassie’s world, you can do that and have it end in making out. But I’m not so sure it works that way for fat girls.”
Wow, real cool. Make your sister feel like crap because she hasn’t kissed anyone, when you already know she has low self-confidence?
I felt like I was just waiting for Cassie’s character development to happen, where she realises how unfairly she treated Molly and it gets resolved, but you don’t get that. Instead, Molly’s character ‘develops’ by getting a boyfriend and then BAM the relationship between Molly and Cassie is fixed as well. That sends a great message, right?
I know a lot of people read the book and didn’t get this vibe from it, but I did and I didn’t find it ‘cute’ or ‘funny’, I just found it irritating.
When it comes to the actual romance, I thought Reid’s character was pretty cool, but so much of the book was focused on Molly’s whining about her lack of a love life, that there just wasn’t enough time given to him or their budding romance, so ultimately I wasn’t invested in it.
However, on the plus side – the diversity was really great again and there were definitely a few moments that I found fun and relatable to read. The book also broached a lot of topics that I think are important to discuss, especially within a book aimed at teenagers, such as feminism. Becky Albertalli’s writing style was also equally as great in this, and my view of this book definitely wont put me off buying any of her future books.
I’d love to know what you thought of TUOU if you’ve already read it? Or if you’ve not read it yet, are you planning to?
PS. Sorry for being AWOL for the majority of this month, I had a bit of a writing block and I’m currently in exam season! I hope you are all well 💗