Title: What If It’s Us
Author: Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera
Release Date: October 9 2018
Format: Hardcover / Audiobook
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Goodreads Rating: 3.96 (of 41,266 ratings)
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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?
OMFG, I CANNOT. this BOOK. Just. Omfg, it was so cute and fun and real. Like, a really real book that shows actually so much truth and hope and feels and I just??? Ugh, I don’t even know how to begin or what to say, but dear gosh. Welcome to Mandy – girl of usually many words but will just mostly be screaming this entire review while just repeating SO GOOD.
First and foremost: thank you so much to LaRonda @ Flying Paperbacks for the recommendation who mentioned this book on my Yallfest 2019 rec requests, since this book was not on my plan at all.
There is so much to love about this book, so bare with me as I fill these heart emojis up with my rambles.
💛 These characters. Omg, I loved Ben and Arthur so so so much. They were so wonderfully complex and lovable and realistic. You literally couldn’t help but root for them. I loved both of their personalities, and they were so full of life. Albertalli and Silvera spent so much time to craft two distinct and dynamic characters, yet in their own separate parts, it still felt like the same characters. I adored them, and they were just so lovable??? They also go on journeys throughout the story, and they grow so much in so many ways – which is always my favorite kind of storyline.
💛 One of the biggest aspects that I love was the realness to this story. Yes, I mean, there are clear things that are not very realistic, but what is real was Arthur and Ben. I have never felt so seen at times in this book. I honestly got so choked up at moments, because it was as if words, thoughts, and feelings that I had had came straight from my brain to the page. I related a bit more to Ben most of the time, but there were 100% moments that I instantly related so hard with Arthur. I so rarely feel seen in books, and only last year, I found a book that matched my own voice/self closely, so it was oddly emotional to connect so much to these two characters on this level for me – but it made me love it so much more.
I also love the realness of how Arthur and Ben are. Their characterization and relationship isn’t perfect. They both say stupid stuff, and they mess up. Most of the time in fluffy romance books, everyone always says the right things, things always work out, and inexperienced heroines/heroes just know everything right away – and are good at it. Which, okay, I’m usually really down with since it works to amount to the fluffiest of fluff – aka Mandy’s brand of adorable cheesy goodness. It was just so refreshing to see that these two didn’t have it altogether and how a romance might look in real life – which yet again made it so much more relatable.
💛 Ugh, speaking of the romance, DEAR GOSH. SO SO SO MANY FEELS. I can’t even begin to explain the feels. It’s just ???? Ugh, the romance was a complete pull and push of emotions with all the twists and turns and highs and lows and all the journeyssssss. Ben and Arthur’s chemistry was on fire. I instantly become a literal bowl of feels thinking about them because they just clicked so well. All of their interactions had me screaming with delight, because they just worked so well. You could tell that they clicked on all levels, and I just wanted to live inside the fluffy cinnamon rolls that they were selling me. And okay, sure, it was probably very instalovey, but it was the good kind that I just didn’t care if it was???
💛 While most of the plot revolved around Ben and Arthur finding each other and the romance that would follow, it was also about finding themselves. Not going to lie, most of this book really was about the romance, but Ben and Arthur really do a lot of self-discovery. Ben especially does a lot, and he finds out who he can be standing on his own and how to move on from the crushing defeat of first love lost. The little side plots were fun – and the amazing side cast and their own stories were fun, adorable, and Supporting Cast Award worthy. Seriously, the side case was amazing, and I’m 100% down for this crew anytime.
💛 The writing was super good as well! I knew Silvera and Albertalli were big contemporary names, but I had yet to read a book by either of them. I didn’t click with Simon Vs., and I’ve always been intimidated by Silvera’s writing. However, I could tell by the end why their work has resonated with so many YA readers. Their writing was full of life, emotions, and hope. It just put me in a good mood, and I breezed through this read because I always wanted to get back to it. Their voices were distinct but seamless together.
💛 There was one tiny part that did get slightly out of tune with the story. I felt like it lost a bit of rhythm right after the big climax toward the end. I mean, it was still good and everything, but I felt a little out of sync for a while. I mean, it got back to it easily, and by the end, I was back screaming my feels to the world – aka my car windshield as I was driving home and probably making really weird faces – but it lost me for a slight second in the pacing.
💛 And I mean, that ending. I absolutely can appreciate the realness of that ending, but also like like like. I have feels.
Overall, this was amazing, and I’m kind of broken now? I looked at all the rest of the contemporaries that are on my list of books to read for the month to complete the Yallfest 2019 readings, but like, I can’t even begin to pick them up because my emotions are so wrung out and like I can’t imagine they would compare to this lovely bout of perfection??? I’m going to go read a ghost story now to see if I can properly restore myself to peak Mandy.
rating: Rapunzel because OMFG THE FEELS
representation: Jewish MC, Puerto Rican MC, gay MCs, m/m romance, ADHD MC, side characters of various ethnicity
content warnings: homophobia, panic attack (mentioned but resulted in hospitalization), sexual content (mentions and actual scene – more focused on the emotions than physical)
read this if you: are looking for an adorable romance set in one NYC summer that brings both reals and feels
What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!