I’m joining in with the praise for Becky Albertalli’s follow-up to the great Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. And I’m adding Becky Albertalli to the YA Mount Rushmore, along with Rainbow, Andrew, and AS. She writes teens that seem like actual human beings, who talk like regular kids, and who make realistic mistakes. These kids are full of self-doubt and have families that embarrass them, but are also hopeful and fiercely loyal to those aforementioned embarrassing families. These kids could be living next door to me. These kids (without the CONSTANT social media aspect of their lives) could have been me and my friends in high school.
Molly (cousin of Abby from Simon vs. the HSA) and her sister Cassie are twins, yet nothing alike. Cassie is outgoing, is tall and pretty, dates girls, and is outgoing and (Molly thinks) fearless. Molly is more reserved. She’s a bit anxious. She’s described by her grandmother as being “zaftig”. And while she’s crushed hard on many boys (26, to be exact), she’s still waiting for that special first kiss.
When Cassie falls hard for adorable and cool Mina, Molly finds herself the third wheel a lot of the time. Mina has a few cute guy friends, including handsome, hipster Will. Is Will going to be crush number 27, replacing Lin-Manuel Miranda?
Meanwhile, Molly gets a job at a local boutique in her neighborhood and becomes friendly with Reid, the Game of Thrones/Tolkien loving nerd who’s parents own the shop. Molly can be herself with Reid, and they find themselves talking and laughing for hours whenever they’re together. But Reid isn’t boyfriend material, right?
Reid likes renaissance fairs and his sneakers are too white.
But he loves (and hoards! just like me!) mini eggs, so right away I knew I was going to like him.
It takes them a while to figure themselves out, but waiting for Reid and Molly to figure out their feelings was a pleasant ride. I got nervous a few times that Molly’s anxiety and self-doubt would get the best of her, but her lovely support system — including her two moms, her sister, her cousin, and her best friend — helped her to finally recognize that YES! She deserved happiness and love just as much as anyone else.
Also, the opening sentence? Amazing.
“I’m on the toilet at the 9:30 Club, and I’m wondering how mermaids pee.”
As someone who spends a lot of time at the 9:30 Club, this killed me. Those weird mermaid barbies on the bathroom stall doors are always so puzzling to me.
I look forward to seeing what Albertalli writes next.