What if It’s Us
by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Length: 448 pages
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for review consideration. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
View at the Traffic light:
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 play?
But what if it is?
What If It’s Us is a cute contemporary romance written by two of my favorite authors with a lot of charm and heart. I will pick up anything either Becky Albertalli or Adam Silvera write, so it was no surprise that I immediately jumped to read this book as soon as I could. While I do have a few minor issues, I think that readers who have been long-time fans of either of these authors will not be disappointed.
What If It’s Us follows Ben and Arthur, two teen boys, and their summer romance in New York City. Arthur is in New York for the summer, interning for a law firm his mother works out, when he runs into Ben. Ben is a tried-and-true New Yorker who’s having a bit of a rough go. He’s just broken up with his boyfriend and is spending the majority of his summer in summer school, so he’s definitely not expecting a rebound romance to bump into him at the post office.
The unfolding story follows Ben and Arthur as they try to make it work. They have a lot of false starts, a couple of bad dates, but keep trying anyway. They know from the beginning that any relationship has an ending point, as Arthur will be going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, and Ben will still be in New York City. Still, that doesn’t stop them from being optimistic and trying.
What If It’s Us does a really excellent job at portraying the excitement and also awkwardness of first love. Ben and Arthur are not suave, experienced characters. They are wonderfully messy and complex, and the relationship that follows because of that feels real, and the story has a lot of charm. However, there’s not as much substance beneath that charm as one might expect from the duo that’s writing the book.
Becky Albertalli’s books are generally pretty charming and happy, but one of the reasons I love her writing so much is that she tackles a lot of important issues within the fluff and charm. It often anchors her books and give them a depth not all YA contemporary has, and Adam Silvera’s writing is definitely generally more heart-breaking than heart-warming (though just as excellent). In this case, I felt What If It’s Us was missing some of that trademark depth. Still a worthwhile read, but not one that became an instant favorite like Albertalli’s works tend to do.
What If It’s Us is a cute, adorable romance, and it does have a lot of heart. . . but I also felt it was missing some of that depth I’ve come to expect from both these authors. However, while this book was not my favorite book by either of these authors, I still thought it was highly enjoyable and it’s a great addition to the growing canon of happy queer YA love stories. 4/5 cupcakes.