3 stars, not spoiler free.
I have to start by addressing my biggest issue, which isn’t about the book but about the negative reviews it receives. Everybody loved Simon’s book. No surprise there, plus a lot of females really enjoy stories with m/m relations but when it comes to f/f suddenly everything surrounding it is problematic. But that’s not even the point I’m trying to make. The issue is that when it comes to having a fat girl as the main character everyone seems to have a problem with it. It happened with Holding Up the Universe and it happens here too. Having a fat main character actually addressing bullying and sharing their thoughts about being fat does not make a book problematic.
It’s simply the reality of a lot of fat girls and how they feel about themselves. Now, this book is short and it doesn’t really focus on the fact that Molly is fat unlike what happens with Libby so we don’t see a lot of development from that part. But self-love doesn’t happen in two seconds. I also didn’t felt like Molly needed a boy to validate her, she simply wanted to experience kissing one and actually having a boyfriend. Which I guess, a normal thing? To experience those sort of things. I also highly doubt that Molly suddenly started loving herself and accepted her body once she starts dating Reid. Yes, she does think she’s beautiful but I don’t think it’s related to Reid. Dating Reid makes her happy and guess what, having someone love you can help you realise what you couldn’t before. Because what once felt impossible it’s happening now. I don’t know where this obsession with turning love into a bad thing comes from.
In fact, Molly seems to care more about the fact that her grandmother thinks she’s beautiful than she did with Reid.
Anyway, let’s start with quotes that I totally relate to and no, I don’t find it problematic. I find it realistic.
“I guess it’s just this feeling that my body is secretly all wrong. Which means any guy who assumes I’m normal is going to flip his shit if we get to the point of nakedness (…) It makes me never want to be naked. And it’s not like I could be a Never Nude. I don’t even like jean shorts.”
Girl, same. And feeling this way doesn’t mean I need a boy to validate me. Because I know that getting a boyfriend doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going to love myself. It doesn’t work like that. I don’t need men to validate me.
Here’s another one,
“We’d kiss. Okay. We’d have sex. I don’t know. Even if he likes me, I’m not sure he’d like me naked. I hate that I’m even thinking that. I hate hating my body. Actually, I don’t even hate my body. I just worry everyone else might.”
And here we have it, Molly doesn’t even hate her body but she worries everyone else does. Because why? People really enjoy bullying others for the way they look and maybe, just maybe if we treated everyone the same way, this wouldn’t be an issue. If people weren’t assholes we wouldn’t have others growing up feeling like outsiders and people not worth loving or not being acceptable to have sex because of what their body looks like.
Another one showing once again, that also relates to movies, tv shows etc where everywhere you rarely get positive fat representation, “Under my shirt, there’s no flat stomach, and there are no cute little boobs, and there’s no hazy lighting. It’s just a lot of me. Way too much of me.”
Let’s stop pretending Molly is the only one who feels the way and the story are in her point of view so of course, you are going to see everything the way she does. And everything is going to be about her and how she sees everyone else. Because we are in her head so we might not like everything we see.
And to sum up this boyfriend business and how she needs to be validated, there’s this interesting conversation between her and her mum.
“Because I don’t want to be a girl who needs a boyfriend,” I say.
“Well, of course you don’t need one,” Nadine says, “But it’s okay to want one.”
“You get to want whatever you want,” (…) “And you know what? Love is worth wanting.”
Wanting to be in love doesn’t make it a bad thing. It’s okay to want love, to feel loved. Love is not a bad thing, it can destroy you, yes, but it can also help build you up. And it doesn’t matter what type of love it is. Love is a good thing. It should be a good thing.
About the rep! It was amazing because yeah we have a straight main character and it’s about her romance with boys but then you have all these secondary characters are either POC or part of the LGBT+ community. And they are seen as people, nothing weird or shady about it. They are just people. And I thought the author introduces everyone in such a normal way, that’s how it should always be. So honestly, if this book gets a lot of praise and great ratings it deserves it simply by how great it is when it comes to rep. And we don’t have the author playing around with words, it’s direct. You have characters actually described as pansexual and bisexual.
side note: a lot of people constantly trash other books for not having enough rep and then when they do get books with it, no one knows how to handle them.
I think the issue was when it comes to feminism. I felt like the author is a little uncertain about what it means. And the slut part, I still don’t get exactly the point she was trying to make, it didn’t come through like she wanted, maybe.
About the characters:
I wasn’t a big fan of Cassie through the book. I didn’t quite connect and it’s the second time I read a YA book with twins and for some reason, I can never connect with “the other one”. I think she embarrasses Molly a lot. And about her relation with Mina, of course, it’s rep and it was great how normal it was treated. But I honestly thought for a while that Mina liked Molly and not Cassie. I just didn’t see enough ground for it.
I’m going to be honest and say that I was completely oblivious to Nick, Abby and Simon. Only earlier today I realised that I was reading about THE Nick, Simon and Abby. And I think it was great to just add them and see how it all connects. I liked Abby a lot on this book that I might have liked on Simons vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Reid was really cute and although Will was the hot one, I guess, I’m glad Molly ended up with him. The whole Will thing was getting annoying. You don’t force people together. And he shouldn’t have let Molly on and she shouldn’t have used him in order to make Reid jealous, that’s gross.
In the end, we can’t forget we are reading about teenagers who do and say stupid stuff. But it’s also really important the message the author tries to share with her readers. Personally I didn’t finish this book feeling like I need a boy to validate me and I don’t think that’s what she’s trying to say either.
I recommend it to those who might want to see some glimpses of Abby, Nick and Simon. And also, do it for the rep. We need more books like this, we need more books who treat it like it’s normal and show us human beings. And we need more main characters with different body types. We need more.