Have you ever felt so connected to a character that every page turn feels like a memory? That’s me with Molly Peskin-Suso from Becky Albertalli’s fantastic The Upside of Unrequited. Molly is the character I never thought I’d see in YA–a variation on myself.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Upside, here is the summary:
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.
Molly has had 26 crushes that have remained in the silence of her heart and head. To that end, here are 26 fictional characters that I have been in love with.
26. Wes (The Truth About Forever)
Wes is one of those characters that I’ve been heart-eyes over for over a decade (that sentence was so weird to write). I kept coming back and rereading TTAB because of Wes. Honestly, I need to go back and reread this book because now I’m just thinking of Wes and how he completely turns Macy’s world upside down and gah.
25. Kili (The Hobbit)
This has 0% to do with the book and 150% to do with the fact that Aidan Turner played him in the movies. I mean, what a precious cinnamon roll. And I totally watched all of the behind-the-scenes features of The Hobbit as they appeared on YouTube because I knew that Aidan Turner would be in them. God bless Peter Jackson for keeping ugly facial hair off that beautiful face (and don’t bless him for much else because this movie is super white and while that is a good thing for Gandalf it is not for a full cast). [Please note that if you haven’t seen/read LOTR this is a reference to “Gandalf the White” not a statement about Sir Ian McKellan’s ethnicity :P] I’m still very salty about the third movie (and honestly every second of film they wasted on people who are not Kili, because what was the point of that), but I still watch the first bit of the first movie because it’s amusing and Aidan Turner’s face is pretty.
24. Char (Ella Enchanted)
I saw the movie first, and the movie came out when I was 10. So in this instance, I am referring to Mr. Claire Danes aka Hugh Dancy in the film version of Ella Enchanted.
I mean, just look at the way he looks at her and smiles! WHAT A PRECIOUS BB. I love him. And I regularly will watch scenes from this movie to see his face. And I also watched the first season of Hannibal because of that face (note: that is a mistake if you don’t like gore).
23. Professor Bhaer (Little Women)
I’m not saying that if you think Jo should have ended up with Laurie you are wrong, but you are wrong. Bhaer is perfect for Jo because he is not only someone she cares for and loves deeply but he is also there as an intellectual companion who can keep up with her brain. The end scene of the Winona Ryder version will never fail to make me weepy–even looking at this tiny GIF now I am tearing up.
22. Nelson (The Little Lady Agency)
I am a total sucker for the best friend characters. I remember that I found this book at Goodwill during high school and I was like “I MUST HAVE IT” and then I found out there were two more in the series and I was like “I MUST HAVE THEM” and I’ve been smitten ever since. Melissa and Nelson are flatmates and Melissa spends a lot of time with an American business man who is not Nelson and that’s just upsetting. But Nelson is perfect, and these books are super fun for anyone looking for a light, super fun read with a great cast of characters.
21. Daniel (Something Strange and Deadly)
I love this series so much. I especially love Daniel, even if he’s frustrating (which is part of the charm in books sometimes, I know I know). Daniel is an inventor and he’s great, and he and Eleanor are one of my all time favorite ships. If you have yet to read this series, please note they are re-releasing the series with new covers (on the right), so you have a perfect opportunity to get yourself acquainted. And then to read everything Susan Dennard writes because she’s great.
20. Tucker (Unearthly)
Tucker was one of those characters where I started off thinking he’d be irrelevant and then I was like NOPE YOU ARE RELEVANT YOU ARE EXCELLENT ILY. I didn’t dislike the main character, but Tucker is definitely what kept me reading this book.
19. Kai (The Girl With the Red Balloon)
Okay I can’t say toooooo much about this one because the book in question isn’t out until September. But I love Kai. Basically the premise of the book is that a girl gets pulled back in time by a red balloon to the time of the Berlin Wall, where Kai helps use the balloons to get people across the wall. And Kai is a precious cinnamon roll and I love him very much and I can’t wait for this book to be out so I can cry to people.
18. Kartik (A Great and Terrible Beauty)
Let’s be real, I almost put the entire cast of The Diviners on here before I made myself limit to one Libba Bray character. And Kartik it is. Kartik is one of those characters where you start off and are like “hmmm” and then by the end of book three you have a lot of emotions. This series still gets to me, even though I haven’t reread it in four-ish years (might be time…).
17. Clark, and all the dogs (The Unexpected Everything)
I love me a guy who loves dogs and has a secret identity (let’s be real, if there was a Marvel movie about a superhero who just saves dogs, I’d see that movie multiple times). I’m in love with books where both characters are heavily questioning themselves, and I feel like this book fulfills that love. Plus there are dogs. And I love dogs.
16. Emi (Everything Leads to You)
I love everything Nina LaCour has written, but Emi is my favorite of all her characters. I feel like she could tell me all the films to watch, plus also decorate the rooms around us and it would be amazing. Plus, she feels a tiny bit like that Emma Roberts Nancy Drew movie (but a million times better, and def not Emma Roberts). I definitely will reread this book over and over across my lifetime, because it is so beautiful and perfect and romantic.
15. Gabe (This Adventure Ends)
I find it funny that I used to be like “ew contemporary” and like half the people on this list are from contemporary books. I love everything about this book, but especially Gabe. He’s a character that you sometimes want to shake, but at the same time you want to stare at his face and just grin at him because 🙂
14. Kash (The Girl From Everywhere)
Okay if you have not read Heidi Heilig’s The Girl From Everywhere, you really should get on that because book two is out within the week after I write this and it’s even better than the first and Kash is literally perfection so. The blurb for the second book states that Kash is “best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire” and holy wow is that a perfect description. And let me say, book two gave me so much Kash that I was like “yes I approve” and left the duology feeling extremely happy.
13. Nina (Six of Crows)
In my self-imposed rule of “one character per author” I had a long debate about Nikolai or Nina. But here Nina is, because it felt right to have the heartrender on a list of crushes. Nina is hands down my favorite character in Six of Crows and honestly if I could just have 15 books about her that would be great. (And speaking of being in love with characters Leigh writes, I’m also very heart-eyes over her Diana in the Wonder Woman book, but I’m not finished with it yet, so I don’t know if I love her more than Nina)
12. Hector (Girl of Fire and Thorns)
I just reread this trilogy at the beginning of this year, and it was funny because I had previously bookmarked the pages of books two and three where things happen with Hector (and I do not tab or mark my books, ever). Book one has the least Hector and is definitely the slowest, but books two and three are so where it’s at (and by it I mean Hector and gah I love him so much)
11. Lincoln (Girl Out of Water)
You know, I can’t say I ever thought I’d be swoony over a skateboarder, but Lincoln has CHANGED ME. The great thing about Lincoln is that while he is there, and Anise goes through changes, it is not him who changes her. Her worldview changes because of her family, and he just happens to be the perfect guy for her new outlook. It’s great. Also he really likes Springsteen, which is hilarious to me because Springsteen also popped up in another 2017 release that is on this list (but I’m not telling)
10. Dodge (The Looking Glass Wars)
This is a book that I’ve loved since high school, and I do still love Dodge. Like I said for Little Lady Agency, I love the best friend characters. And Dodge goes from childhood best friend to soldier who is separated from his queen (who is said childhood best friend) and who has lost his father and wants revenge. Dodge is a bit of a hothead, but he’s also fiercely loyal, and overall wonderful (def a Hufflepuff).
9. Kiaran (The Falconer)
I could talk about Kiaran all day (I’m not going to because I want to actually finish writing all of this so I can work on other things). I love this series. And I especially love Kiaran. I’ve read the third book of the trilogy now so it’s really hard for me to talk about him without talking about the ending of the trilogy, but dear lord I just really love him and if you haven’t read The Falconer please pick it up because it is so incredible.
8. Rishi (When Dimple Met Rishi)
This book was great because honestly I could have just as easily put Dimple on this list too. But here is Rishi. Perfect sweet Rishi, who has been told about his impending arranged marriage and decides to introduce himself to Dimple by basically saying “hello future wife” and then getting a bevvie thrown in his face. Oh, Rishi. I love you so. If this book isn’t on your TBR, then I’m assuming you’ve already read it, because this book is perfection.
7. Charlie Cane (Jackaby)
For a book series that has very little romance, I’ve certainly fallen hard for one of the side characters. Charlie is a police officer in the first book, and he is just one of my favorites (I’m holding out for him being on the cover of book four, which comes out this August). Charlie is the object of a crush held by our heroine Abigail, but for those of you who want a book where romance is very much not in the forefront, you can be in love with Charlie from a distance with Abigail and I (at least for the series start)
6. Okami (Flame in the Mist)
5. Max (The Start of Me and You)
What I really want is a guy who can sit on the couch with me and keep up when I watch Jeopardy and shout the answers at the screen. Max could do that. Max is def my number one crush from a contemporary novel, because he’s nerdy and cute and that’s def what I’m into. The paperback version of this book has emails exchanged between Max and the MC, so if you haven’t read this book yet, get yourself the paperback
4. Flynn Rider (Tangled)
What a babe
3. Brigan (Fire)
This is one of my all time favorite books, and one of my all time favorite princes (who I am still in love with). This was one of the first ARCs I read, and it has stuck with me all this time (and through multiple rereads). One of the things that I love most about Brigan is the interactions he has with Hanna (if you haven’t read this, please do so.) And Brigan grows as a person through the book–he learns to put aside pre-conceived notions and to really put thought behind his judgements, which is a good trait to have for a commander.
2. Remus Lupin (Harry Potter)
I just love him so much. I def have a binder somewhere of Remus Lupin fanfiction that I printed out because I wanted to reread it over and over again.
1. Reid (The Upside of Unrequited)
Remember how this post is because of Upside? Well, there’s a reason. Reid is def my perfect crush (and not just saying that because the guy I currently like IRL is basically Reid). He’s a nerd, he’s kind, he’s sweet, he’s just sunshine personified. I love him.