Title: What If It’s Us?
Author: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Published: October, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Purchase: The Book Depository
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?
It feels a bit harsh to say this, but I wish this book had been better. It was still a good read, but it just didn’t quite reach the heights of an addictive book. In fact, it took me almost three months to finish this one. Ben and Arthur were a nice couple and had a lot of cute scenes together, but it all just felt a bit like fluff. There was no real compelling reason to want them to end up together other than them being the main characters of the book. The whole ‘summer fling’ aspect of the story pretty much sums up my relationship with this book—it was good while it lasted, but now I’m ready to let it go and get back to reality.
I started off quite enjoying the ‘meet cute’ post office plot device. The idea that you could run into someone random, hit it off, and then lose them without even learning their name was quite intriguing, and I couldn’t wait to see how these two would find each other again. The early stages of the book were actually a lot of fun, seeing the lengths Arthur would go to in order to track down the then unnamed boy, in New York City of all places. It brought back memories of my own teenage years, crushing on guys but not evening knowing who they were.
Luckily, in Arthur’s case, he eventually tracks Ben down and things really get going…or so I thought they would. Instead, we’re treated to a lot of bad dates between the two guys, as they continually have do-over after do-over until they finally get things sort of right. I suppose it is kind of cute seeing the guys fight to make things work, the lengths that they would go to, but I just found it awkward. With all their talk of ‘the universe’, it seemed to me like it was trying to give them a hint, or rather, hit them over the head with a book, and tell them that things weren’t meant to be. Still, they persisted.
Introducing a bunch of side characters, we got to briefly meet both Ben and Arthur’s parents—who later disappeared for the rest of the book—and all of their friends, some of whom were exes. This brought about some more angst, keeping the book plodding along, but to me, it just felt like not a lot was happening. We got to know Ben’s best friend and the girl he was dating—I liked them, and could have done with more of their lives. The phone call scenes with Arthur’s two best friends, back in his home town, just felt unnecessary though. They just seemed to be there to give Arthur a bit more angst to deal with.
I think the closer I got towards the end, the more I enjoyed the book. I don’t know if that’s because the finish line was in sight, or if the characters suddenly picked up their game, but regardless, I found Ben and Arthur’s final chapters a bit more enjoyable. The way things tied themselves back together was nice, but it did feel a bit like life-lite, like the emotions were toned down a bit. I closed the book not with my heart full or even wrenched out, but more like, ‘Oh, well, I guess that’s it.’