TITLE: What If it’s Us
AUTHOR: Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera
GENRE/ AGE RANGE: Contemporary, Young Adult
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Cheating, Homophobia, Racism, Panic/Anxiety Attacks, Alcohol, Hospitalisation
PUBLICATION DATE: (US) October 9th 2018 , (UK/AUS) October 18th 2018
ACQUIRED: E-arc copy via Netgalley – Simon & Schuster (Australia)
SYNOPSIS: 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?
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for supplying the e-arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I feel like this was the ultimate contemporary for 2018. Ever since this was announced people have been going nuts and now I get why. This was co-written by Adam Silvera, the guy guaranteed to make you cry & Becky Albertalli, the gal guaranteed to make you smile.
I’m going to be honest here, I wasn’t sure if I was going to read (and enjoy) this one, and as soon as I requested it on Netgalley earlier this year I completely regretted it. So, imagine my surprise when I actually enjoyed the book!
“I believe in love at first sight. Fate, the universe, all of it. But not how you’re thinking. I don’t mean it in the our souls were split and you’re my other half forever and ever sort of way. I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.”
Arthur: Jewish, ADHD, Gay
Ben: Puerto-Rican, Gay
#Ownvoices Rep – Jewish (Becky), Puerto-Rican & Gay (Adam)
This book was so much fun! I definitely had my issues with it, and I’ll get into that later, but for the most part, I really enjoyed it! I found the characters, particularly Arthur to be really relatable – in that they’re quite mature but also act their age. They’re smart in their actions, they think about what they’re going to do before they do it, but they also act their age and react in a way that a 17-year-old would. Arthur and Ben are also quite emotional which I appreciated – because the way they reacted to situations really made sense to me, but unfortunately, in most media, boys/males rarely show varied emotions.
I wrote this above in my rep section, but a bunch of the rep in this book is #ownvoices so if you’re looking for authentic gay, Puerto-Rican &/or Jewish representation, this is a great book for you to pick up!
CUTE AF, BUT IT FLOWS TOO WELL?
This is a non-spoiler review so I want to keep it sweet and simple, so here it is: What If It’s Us is cute af. The characters are relatable, the romance is adorable & it’s such a pleasure to read!
The writing flows really well, but actually, that’s one of my main criticisms with the book – the writing flows too well. Unless Arthur was getting really hyper and talking about Hamilton I usually couldn’t tell his pov apart from Ben’s which got pretty frustrating purely because I had to be constantly swiping back to the start of the chapter to see who’s pov I was reading from.
Also, just a side note: This book deals with a lot of more mature subjects like alcohol & sex, as well as what it feels like when you’re so close to going into Uni/College as the MCs are both 17 by the end of the book.
Also also, just a side note: If you haven’t listened to Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen before reading this, you probably should. Both musicals are a big part of the story and the characters so there are a lot of references (the same goes for Harry Potter) to the songs and the stories. I learnt this the hard way, having never listened to Dear Evan Hansen before – well, jokes on me because that’s where the authors got the title from.
“Box boy dates guys. I’M A GUY.”
Okay, so here we get to the part of the review where I talk about y issues with the book, and why I ended up only giving What If Its Us a 4 stars and not the 5 I could have done.
When I started reading this I really had no clue what it was about, other than it involved a Post Office & a break-up box. So, until the main characters actually met, I was loving it – I thought the characters were really interesting and I was really enjoying reading from their perspectives. And I’m talking laughing out loud on the bus kind of enjoyment, which is a total departure from the usual resting b*tch face I exhibit. I found them to be really dorky and much like my inner self so I was thinking I had finally found a contemporary I could see myself actually wanting to purchase and re-read for years to come – a feat no other contemporary has managed since I read Simon Vs. back in 2016.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the case – while, I can definitely see myself wanting a copy of this to tab up and highlight the hell out of in future, I don’t know if I will give it an annual re-read like I do with Simon. And, this is all down to one thing, really.
The first 30ish% of What If It’s Us revolves around the two main characters trying to find each other after failing to get the other’s number after their meet-cute at the post office. So, to cut to the chase, I fund this book creepy. *runs to the corner* *sorry*
The first 30% of this book revolved around the two love interests trying to find each other online and it really rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t want to spoil anyone, but the way they used and abused social media to find the other character was disturbing. Somehow, and in a totally realistic and creep way, one character, let’s call him boy 1, was able to get enough information out of a 5-minute conversation with a total stranger (aka. boy 2) that he was able to track down someone in boy 2’s life on Instagram and then find boy 2 irl. It honestly just freaked me out and turned me off the book in the beginning – and then as the story progressed I thought maybe it would be a commentary on the dangers of social media. But, no it was just a quirky cute thing that boy 1 did and everyone sees as a huge romantic gesture while I, a mainly sane person would be running for the hills while also calling the police.
“And I let Jonathon Groff drown them out. Because that’s what cute boys are for.“
Overall, this was a cute read with a fantastic ending and maybe I’ll re-read it again after I’ve actually listened to Dear Evan Hansen but it also isn’t perfect. I feel like this could’ve been a really good commentary on the dangers of social media & there could have been more conversation about privacy but it was never really brought up after the fact.
Either way, this is a great read for a readathon, maybe the next round of Contemporaryathon? This is also a really diverse read, in that there is rep for ADHD (he takes rescripted meds which helps in school), Jewish rep, Puerto-Rican & gay rep which I really enjoyed each as part of the story.
Also, and this is minor on the rep scale,, but there is a recurring Biromantic Asexual character and that honestly made my day when I saw it on the page.