Author: Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera
Also by this author: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Upside of Unrequited, More Happy Than Not, History Is All You Left Me
Publication date: October 9, 2018
Source: ARC from Harper Collins Canada (thank you!), Purchased at Chapters Indigo
Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.
ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?
What if it’s us?
Review: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
The cutest meet-cute of all time, What If It’s Us might seem like the fluffiest book ever. Penned by the queen of cute gay romances, Becky Albertalli, and the king of sob-fest gay romances, Adam Silvera, this sweet book offers sauce and substance to pack a romance punch.
It starts at a post office, with Ben Alejo about to mail a break-up box to his ex-boyfriend, and running into Arthur Seuss, a Georgia boy who’s in town for the summer. Their eyes meet. They have an adorable chat. A flash mob happens. And then the two of them go on their way, without exchanging numbers or emails or anything.
The first part of the book, “What If”, is a missed connections like-search. It’s both a treatise on believing in the universe, and a great way to establish who these characters are. Both of them are hopeful romantics, but Ben is more grounded in reality and in his recent break-up. He’s the more experienced, cooler New Yorker – at least, that’s the impression he wants to portray. But the refreshing thing is that Ben is actually nerd who owns his nerdiness – he loves Harry Potter, video games, and he’s writing a fantasy series about his own life. And yeah, he had a boyfriend who was part of his friend group, and now they’re in summer school together and he can’t figure out how to navigate that.
Arthur, meanwhile, is a newly out Jewish boy who is working at his mom’s New York office for the summer. He’s never had a first kiss, never had a boyfriend, but is ready and aching for it. I totally identified with Arthur and his no-chill, touristy-love of New York, musicals, Harry Potter, and the universe. This boy is a classic high school dreamer who has never been sucker-punched by the world before.
The second part of the book, “It’s Us”, gives us a look at how the relationship is going to play out. And this is where the book really shines, because as much as you want to believe this is the cutest rom-com, both Arthur and Ben have issues that help and hurt the relationship. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of cuteness here, but they are also very human. Ben doesn’t know how to tell Arthur he sees his ex every day in summer school. He’s also terrible about being late. Arthur, meanwhile, doesn’t really know how to be in a relationship and tends to jump to conclusions if things don’t go exactly as planned.
And if you think they go through this alone, you’re wrong. The secondary characters – the friends of Ben and Arthur – sparkle throughout the book with their own ideas of love and relationships. Ben’s best friend Dylan is a particularly good foil for Ben and Arthur, and you can really see how Ben and Arthur’s parents have shaped them.
What I loved about WHAT IF IT’S US was how realistic it was about a summer love – how heady it can feel, but also how bittersweet. The relationship between Ben and Arthur isn’t at all perfect, but you can tell they want it so badly that they are going to make it work. There’s a lot in What If It’s Us that is expected, but fresh. We get those magic moments of first kisses, touches, and hugs, and done very well. But what I took out of it more was the idea that the best relationships take work, effort and respect.
While WHAT IF IT’S US has a lot of good points, I did have some issues with it. I feel like more weight could have been given to a few of the external prejudices that Ben and Arthur face. It needed a bit more to drive it towards the ending. And speaking of the ending – it definitely through me for a loop. I really don’t want to say too much more than that, but suffice to say, it wasn’t as satisfying as I hoped it would be.
But to tell you more about those and other great parts of the book would be depriving you of the rewards of this book – and like the relationship between Ben and Arthur, you’ll have to work a little to get there.
Book Theme Song:
It is LITERALLY the title of the book and a huge part of the book itself. If you want a clue as to what the book is about, LISTEN TO THIS SONG.
The Final Word:
Of course I was excited about a book by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera! I was immediately captivated by WHAT IF IT’S US’s cute premise, but what really got me excited was how quickly I fell into this story of an imperfect love story for 2018. I was ready to give my BFF charm to Ben, Arthur, and their friends by a quarter of the way through the book. Like both Albertalli and Silvera’s previous books, there are a lot of call-outs to pop culture that make this a really fun and current read, but at its heart, this is a book about what it takes to give your heart away. It’s a book for nerds, dreamers, and true friends.
WHAT IF IT’S US by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera is out in North America this week! Are you reading it? Have you read it or any of Albertalli or Silvera’s other books? Are you also obsessed with meet-cutes? And if you have read it, there are really iconic (and somewhat aggravating) scenes that I’m DYING to talk about (the street musical scene! The goodbye! The last few pages!) – come tell me your fave scene in the book!