Published by HarperTeen on October 9, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
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?
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Of course, the minute Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera announced that they were writing a book together, I was on board. And, naturally, when HarperCollins approved me for an e-ARC on Edelweiss, I picked up What If It’s Us IMMEDIATELY. I am happy to say that it exceeded my already-high expectations!
What If It’s Us follows two protagonists: Arthur, a Southern transplant in NYC for the summer interning at his mother’s law firm, and Ben, a New York native who’s suffering through summer school with his ex-boyfriend. Ben and Arthur have a meet-cute in a post office in the city, and the story takes off from there.
Let me say right off the bat: Arthur Seuss and Ben Alejo are two precious cinnamon rolls, and I will protect them with my life. The whole cast of characters in What If It’s Us is just a bunch of lovable dorks. Arthur is so unapologetically enthusiastic about the things he loves, which I adored. He tries so hard, but in such a genuine way. He was a classic Albertalli main character– meaning I loved and related to his inner monologue so hard. Ben, on the other hand, is a bit more reserved and less outwardly confident, but he exudes a kind of… cool factor– one that all of Adam Silvera’s MCs seem to have. The side characters were wonderful and three-dimensional, too! I especially loved Ben’s best friend, Dylan, and his girlfriend, Samantha. Both sets of parents were also present and awesome, which is always a welcome surprise in YA contemporaries. Oh, and the representation in this story is fantastic: both our MCs are gay, and additionally, Arthur is Jewish and Ben is Puerto Rican. He is also white-passing, which sparks a lot of important conversation throughout the book. Dylan has anxiety and a chronic heart condition, and there’s also a biromantic ace side character!
There is so much amazing fanboying in this novel: over musicals (especially Hamilton), over fantasy novels (especially Harry Potter), over The Sims, over Levain Bakery’s chocolate chip cookies. As someone who also loves all of the aforementioned things, I LOVED the inclusion of all the references! Of course, as per usual, Becky Albertalli nailed the Atlanta references (Arthur literally attends the high school my dad went to), and Adam Silvera nailed the NYC vibes. Personally, I’ve read every other published work by both these authors, so since I’m familiar with their writing styles, I had no trouble telling the main characters’ POVs apart. The writing was excellent from both authors.
Obviously, we have to talk about the romance. Because WHAT A ROMANCE. I kind of assumed the majority of the book would be Ben and Arthur trying to find each other again after their missed connection at the post office, but it was a welcome surprise when that plot point was resolved about a third of the way through the book! As a result, we got to see a lot more of Ben and Arthur together, trying to navigate how to make their relationship work. This has to be one of the most realistic relationships I’ve ever read in YA. The two have conflict, but they actually communicate with each other to try to resolve things. And they LISTEN to each other. What a concept! These are two imperfect people who really like each other and who want to make things work, but don’t always know the best way to go about it. They both felt so human. What If It’s Us was also very sex-positive, as both Silvera’s and Albertalli’s books tend to be. I also thought the ending felt SO true to this story. It was perfect and real and I wish more books had endings like this.
Overall, this book? *chef’s kiss* Utter perfection. It’s the m/m rom-com we all deserve in the year of our lord, 20-gay-teen. I’ll be screaming about this one for a while, but I would especially recommend it to anyone who loves YA contemporary or who has enjoyed Becky and/or Adam’s books in the past!
Have you read What If It’s Us? If so, did you adore it like I did? If not, is it on your TBR?