Welcome to our weekly #BeyondTheBio segment, where we get to know some of the most amazing authors in YA. You may remember today's guest from when she visited with us last year to talk Oreos, coming out, and the film adaptation for her life-changing debut novel, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Well, Becky Albertalli's back with us today to talk about her newest novel - out Tuesday! - entitled The Upside Of Unrequited. And it's every bit as much a laugh-generating, heart-warming, feels-inducing bundle of awesomeness as you'd expect from someone like Becky. I'm so glad she was able to join us today! Let's get to it!
James: Hey Becky! Welcome back! You are officially are our first ever repeat author here on Beyond The Bio, and I for one couldn't be happier. Last time you were here, we talked about your incredible debut, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda. But in just two more days, you have a brand new book coming out! Can you tell me a little bit about it?
Becky: I’m incredibly honored, and I’m so happy to be here! And I’d love to tell you about my new book. It’s called The Upside of Unrequited, and it’s about a seventeen-year-old girl named Molly who lives just outside Washington, DC. Molly’s had twenty-six crushes, but she’s never had a boyfriend. She’s never really put her heart on the line, because she’s terrified of rejection. But Molly’s world is upended when her twin sister Cassie falls in love for the very first time. Cassie and Molly are both desperate to carve out a new normal for their super-close relationship, and it seems like setting Molly up with Cassie’s girlfriend’s best friend is the solution. But Molly’s crush machine heart may have other plans.
James: On Twitter, you've said that writing Molly's character was a "100% #OwnVoices" experience for you. What similarities do you see between yourself and Molly?
Becky: It’s funny, because people who know me know that Simon Spier is a lot like me – but Molly is next level personal. Like Molly, I’m a chubby Jewish anxious little stressball. While our families aren’t exactly alike, I’m very close to my siblings – and I have a sister who’s close to my age, and a brother who’s much younger. Molly’s better at crafts and baking than I am, but I think I match her for enthusiasm. I’ve gone down so many Pinterest and craft blog rabbit holes in the last few years. Molly would have been especially proud of my older son’s first birthday party.
James: In Simon, we were introduced to your love for Oreos. In Upside, we get Cadbury Mini Eggs. Is it safe to say that you're a fan as well? And if so, what's next? What future culinary obsessions can we expect to wiggle their way into your future books?
Becky: I am such a big fan of Cadbury Mini Eggs. I think they’re totally underrated, and they should absolutely be stockpiled around Easter for year-round consumption. I’ve really enjoyed having snack associations with my book, especially because my readers send me yummy recipes and pictures. But I’m afraid Leah doesn’t have as strong of a snack pairing as Simon and Molly.
James: One of my favorite things about Upside is the way you challenge the cultural standards too often placed around the idea of beauty. There's one section in particular that resonated with me. Molly says, "I'm used to being told I have a pretty face. Or pretty hair, or pretty eyes. But it's different, being called beautiful. Just beautiful, without conditions." What message would you give to teens like Molly who have trouble thinking of themselves as beautiful?
Becky: Oh, this is so complicated, because a big part of me wants to dismantle the cultural importance of physical beauty altogether. But I think it’s also important to acknowledge that we as a society do value physical beauty, even though it’s an arguably problematic thing to value. Girls like Molly grow up receiving very powerful messages from media, friends, and family about what qualifies as beautiful. With Molly, I hope to push back against come of these messages, and to turn “beautiful” into a broader, more inclusive category. I want teens to read this book and understand that they are beautiful! But eventually, I’d like to explore why we cling so tightly to the value of physical beauty in the first place.
James: No surprise here, but Upside is definitely one of my favorite YA books from 2017 so far. What are some of your favorite books so far this year? And are there any books coming out later this year that we should be excited for?
Becky: Thank you so, so much! I have so many favorites, and I’ll never be able to name all of them, but a few already-released 2017 that I’ve loved:
-History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
-American Street by Ibi Zoboi
-The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
-Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
-Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
And a few upcoming titles to get excited about:
-Fireworks by Katie Cotugno (coming out April 11th!)
-Dear Martin by Nic Stone
-When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
-The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
-Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
-27 Hours by Tristina Wright
-Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
-They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
-The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
-How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
That's it for today's interview with Becky. If you have questions for Becky or want to let her know why you're excited for The Upside Of Unrequited, be sure to reach out to her on Twitter or stop by her website. Don't forget to stop by your local bookstore on Tuesday and snag a copy of Upside. While you're there, be sure to check out some of the other amazing books Becky recommended. Then stay tuned to #BeyondTheBio, where we'll be introducing you to several of the authors Becky mentioned. We will be taking next week off but will be returning after the holiday. In the meantime, make Molly proud and enjoy your Cadbury Mini Eggs.