Book Review

What If It’s Us

What If It’s Us

  • Author: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
  • Genre: YA Romance
  • Publication Date: October 9. 2018
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Series: What If It’s Us #1

CONTENT WARNING: microaggressions, homophobia

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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 quite nail a first date … or a second first date … or a third?

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 show?

But what if it is?

Best friends Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, and heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

I’ve read a few books by Becky Albertalli and love her style, but I wasn’t familiar with Adam Silvera’s writing yet. Now that I’ve read this collab, I’m definitely going to have to check out more of his work as well. 

The first thing that I noticed was that this book was absolutely hilarious. The writing is witty and dorky and clever, and had me flying through the pages of this story. It takes place in New York City, and so much of it feels like a love letter to one of the most vibrant, quirky, and unique cities in the world. 

The authors create realistic and unique yet wholly relatable characters. Both Arthur and Ben feel like the kind of people I want to be friends with, and in a lot of ways, echo people that I’ve known at various points in my life. I could identify with so much of the thoughts and feelings that they had, although our life experiences and situations were vastly different. And even better, the side characters were amazing—they were well-rounded and had great personalities, but more importantly, added so much value to the story.

“Up until yesterday when Samantha got involved, I never thought there was a real chance of finding him. It’s New York City and I know next to nothing about him. But then she got her Nancy Drew on and hope became a thing.”

Arthur is the optimistic and overly talkative character in the story, and he’s relatively new to dating. He recently came out to his friends, and is struggling with fears of how one of them is reacting to the news. And on top of all of that, he’s been uprooted for the summer, so he can’t exactly process his feelings with his friends face-to-face, since he’s moved from Georgia to New York City for the summer. But, as an optimist, he’s working hard to live his best life in an amazing city that has so much to offer. And he’s going to work hard to accept everything that the universe has to offer him. However, he has so many fears, and I could absolutely relate to his worries about how many questions pop up when a relationship starts, because I’ve definitely had these thoughts as well:

“It’s funny—I always imagined dating someone would be pretty straightforward, once you established you liked each other, but it’s not. There’s this whole new world of bewildering situations.”

Ben is more of a broody character who processes his feelings internally. After dealing with a breakup, he also realizes that his entire friendship group dynamic has changed, and it leaves him with just one really good friend. But when his friend gets into a relationship, everything changes. And I’ve definitely experienced this issue in a friendship as well:

“Don’t get me wrong—I want him to be happy, he’s my absolute best friend. But sorry, he’s not good at being a best friend when he’s someone’s boyfriend. It’s like the only topic in the world becomes his girlfriend, and I don’t feel like I can get a word in about what’s happening with me.”

There’s great diversity in the story. Our two main characters are gay, and deal with at least one situation where outright homophobia occurs, but Arthur is Jewish and Ben is Puerto-Rican who passes as white. It creates other concerns for him, and I especially loved that microaggressions are directly discussed in the story.

“It’s really not my job to train people on catching themselves. It’s really not my job to reprogram people so they not only don’t say something stupid, but that they don’t think it.”

I absolutely loved everything about this story. It’s the kind of book that kept me engaged from start to finish, and had me invested in the characters right from the start, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to them along the way. And while the ending isn’t exactly what I may have wanted, I also can’t complain because it was beautiful and happy and realistic. However, from what I understand, this book wasn’t originally planned as a duology, and then ended up being that way. Naturally, I’m definitely planning on getting my hands on a copy of book 2 as soon as possible, because I need to know what happens next!

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