What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 9th, 2018
ARC from Edelweiss
| Book Review |
Thanks to my unending love for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, What If It’s Us is a book that’s been on my radar since it was announced. And what a fun read this was! From Ben and Arthur’s meet cute to the very end, this was so enjoyable. One of the best things about this book is that I loved Arthur and Ben separately, and I loved them together. I loved seeing two good guys who were just living life and having fun finding each other. Their relationship begins pretty assertively when Arthur seeks Ben out after their first meeting, in New York City where you rarely see the same stranger twice, after failing to get his contact information. The back and forth of Arthur trying to figure out how he can find Ben again and how he could do it was so much fun. It introduced us to Arthur’s friends and family, who gave him courage by cheering him on or, like his mom, forbidding him to take such ‘extreme’ measures. Ben wavers, but it’s clear he’s secretly hoping to run into Arthur again, and then Arthur’s efforts pay off and the story really takes off. This story was alternating points of view in first person, and it’s clear from the get-go that Arthur is much more open, even with himself, than Ben is. In fact, for part of this story being from Ben’s POV, it felt to me like he was pretty closed off and we rarely knew how he was feeling. Arthur, on the other hand…everyone had their secrets but him. This kid couldn’t hold anything back if you offered him a million dollars, and I loved that about him.
I know one of the persisting gripes in YA are the ‘absent’ parents. You won’t find that here. Both Ben and Arthur’s parents are not only present, but they’re genuinely interested in their son’s lives. And they were such realistic parents, too. Arthur’s were going through an emotional rough patch, and Ben’s adored each other despite their less than stellar financial circumstances. It was like seeing two sides of the same coin, where it’s clear you can rarely have it all. Even with Arthur and Ben, things didn’t naturally fit, they had to work to make them fit, and I think the story felt real because of that. Ben is Puerto Rican, and there was a scene in this story where Arthur says something a bit off the cuff with no ill intent that hurt Ben’s feelings. I loved the way this was explored; it was used as an opportunity for Ben to have a bit of a teaching moment with Arthur instead of getting angry and storming off. I love that Ben recognized it was complete ignorance on Arthur’s part as opposed to ill will, and I feel like in that moment, we saw Ben at his most candid. It was so beautifully written.
Both of the friend groups in this story were fantastic. I loved the dynamic between Ben and his best friend, Dylan. Dylan was not only supportive, but affectionate to Dylan in a way that some people didn’t understand, and it really explored that time of life where boyfriends and girlfriends are coming and going, but where do your friends fit in while all of this is going on? Things were a bit more tenuous with Arthur and his friends, but Arthur had a tendency to live life exaggeratedly sometimes, and I think that tendency to blow things out of proportion by overthinking them and not talking about them spilled into his friendships.
I really enjoyed the pacing of this story. It felt rushed (not in the way it was written,) but in that Arthur and Ben’s time was limited from the moment they met, and it seemed time got away from them and before they knew it, the end of their summer together had arrived and both had a hard time approaching the subject and where things would go from there. Regarding the ending (highlight for spoiler) I wasn’t a huge fan. I completely understand why the authors chose to go the way they did, and they did leave it open ended so the reader could decide whether the two young men found their way as a couple again, but my romance readers heart was left unsatisfied. After working so hard to get together, I wanted more for them. But again, I do respect what the authors chose to do. I even think it was more realistic that what I was looking for. I just wanted the everlasting love!
I adored What If It’s Us, and if you’re looking for a book to settle in with, that will make your heart race (occasionally break,) and make you laugh and smile, this is the one!
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