I loved, loved, loved Becky Albertalli’s book Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda to pieces and had such high expectations when starting to read this book. It seemed like a dream team with Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera co-writing it and the plot seemed to be right up my ally; two teenage boys meet-cute at the post office in NYC and their efforts of finding each other again because maybe “life really isn’t like a Broadway play? But what if it is?”. Unfortunately, What If It’s Us didn’t quite meet my high expectations, but still, it was a very cute, fast-paced read, with a lot of enjoyable New York scenery and pop culture and Broadway references.
The story is told from different POV:s, alternating between Ben and Arthur. Normally, I like this set-up, but here I found a bit unnecessary. I think the main reason why this book was a 4 star and not a 5+ star read for me was that I didn’t fully connect with the characters. Arthur was a bit over the top and Ben was always talking himself and Arthur down and reflecting on how Arthur was too short and not being chill, which after a while got a bit annoying. I also missed a bit of chemistry between them too; it wasn’t Broadway magic between them, which I had hoped for. I also have to say that I found the ending thoroughly dissatisfying. I just really, really wanted to love this so much more than I did. But that’s got more to do with my extremely high expectations than the book, and if I hadn’t read anything by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera before, I’m sure I would have loved it without objections. Because, besides these objections, this really is a lovely book.
What If It’s Us is a bit softer and sweeter, more quiet somehow, than most YA books, which I liked. It was about Ben and Arthur and their little part of the world, which was enough. I really, really enjoyed the descriptions of the dates all over New York and the pop culture and fanfiction references. And the representation is great, the main characters are a gay Puerto Rican and a gay Jewish with ADHD who is obsessed with the musical Hamilton, yay to that! And even though I would have liked some more swoon-worthy magic between Ben and Arthur, the authors did a great job in describing the insecurity you feel about doing things for the first time (first date, first kiss etc.) in such a realistic and adorable way that it made your heart ache. I also adored the side characters, especially Ben’s friend Dylan and his hilarious, awkward “future-wife”-way of jumping way ahead in a relationship. I think Dylan was my favorite character in the book.
Overall, this was a cute and sweet book that is definitely recommend, even if it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for.
Find out more about the book and the authors here: What If It’s Us
My reading tips this week is the cute and funny, while also dealing with serious topics, Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. I binge-read this book since it made me so happy to be back in the wonderful universe of Simon Spier!
So, this book actually focus on Simon’s friend Leah Burke, but still it feels a lot like a sequel to my oh so loved Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I love Becky Albertalli’s writing style, it’s so good and addictive! I also love all the diversity in her books, and that we get to see a f/f-romance. But what I loved absolutely most was getting to read about Simon again. I never even realized how much I’ve missed him and the rest of the characters until I started reading Leah on the Offbeat. Every time Simon appeared, I got this goofy, happy smile all over my face. And Simon and “Blue” (don’t want to make any spoilers in case you haven’t read Simon vs. yet) were the perfect couple! There were so many cute scenes with them, and Blue’s promposal must be the best ever, it was pure literary perfection!
Plot-wise, this book takes place one year after the events following Martin’s blackmail of Simon and Simon and “Blue” becoming a couple. To be honest, there isn’t that much of a story in this book though, it’s mostly focusing on what everyone is up to this year and their plans after graduation (lots and lots of graduation angst!).
I also have to admit that I didn’t really connect with Leah. Her character sometimes came off as really mean and selfish and with double-standards. But on the other hand it was so refreshing with her sarcasm and humor and badass attitude and that Becky allowed her to be a totally messy person with all her flaws. There were also some scenes that I found a bit problematic from a queer perspective. And to be honest, the romance felt a bit forced. There were not a lot of cute moments between them, except for the adorable scene in the end, but I want more to really invest in them as a couple.
So a little bit of mixed feelings for the book, but nevertheless it was a good story with a great mix of feel-good, romance and friendship and serious topics like racism, bisexuality, the coming-out struggle, body insecurity and more. But most of all, I loved it for giving me more of Simon and “Blue”! I am so hoping for a next book where we can get to follow Simon and his friends during college too, and all in all, I highly recommend this book.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Becky Albertalli
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. is a sweet, happy, and relatable feels-good book.
I loved Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda so much that I wanted to stay in her wonderful universe and read all her other books at once. I really, really liked The Upside too, but not quite as much as Simon vs. Still, The Upside is an amazing character-driven cute and relatable story about sisterhood, family, body image, and first love. And Simon himself does a couple of appearances in this book too! As does Abby and Nick. The crossovers from Simon vs. were so wonderful, it made me so happy and warm at heart, that I could recommend this book for that reason alone! Besides of course the fact that this book in itself is an amazing and touching novel about reaching outside of your comfort zone. And with my favorite literature parents ever!
In brief, the story revolves around 17-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso, She is a bit on the larger side and has never dated or kissed any guy, despite her 26 crushes, since her fear of rejection and low self-esteem keeps her from taking chances in her life. Her twin sister, Cassie, on the other hand is Molly’s totally opposite; bold, courageous and popular. She’s had many hookups, but not any serious relationships. But in the beginning of the book, Cassie meets her first real girlfriend, Mina, which changes the twin dynamic and in a way pushes Molly to open up a bit more, just in time for crush number 27, Mina’s cool hipster friend Will. At the same time however, Molly meets co-worker Reid, who is a Tolkien fan and the kind of guy who wears nerdy t-shirts, but who Molly likes more than expected.
With Molly trying to figure which of the boys she’s into and if she should dare to put herself out there and make herself vulnerable, there are some really fun plot twists and realistic teenager situations. Especially the struggle between choosing the boy Molly herself actually likes the most and the one that seems ideal to everyone else. Overall, this book has some of the most realistic portrayals of teenagers I’ve ever read in a YA book; they drink, they talk about sex, they lie and make stupid decisions, they are selfish and immature and wonderful and adorable and freak out about stuff. What I didn’t like so much after a while though was how pushy and selfish Cassie acted when pushing a crush on Molly without caring about her wishes or feelings. There were also times when reading the book that I got a bit annoyed at Molly’s indecisiveness. Luckily though, Cassie did end up being nicer and Molly did make a decision (the right one too!) by the end, so the book ended in a funny and fluffy, give-you-all-the-feels kind of read.
What I loved most about this book was the diversity and inclusivity. There’s Molly with an underrepresented body type without making excuses for it and with anxiety issues, there’s the twin sister who’s into girls, they have two moms, Patty and Nadine, and the twins themselves are sperm-donor babies. Patty and Nadine are such a lovely couple and amazing mothers (seriously, I’d love for them to adopt me…) and their wedding was one of the best things in the book. I really loved all of the family dynamic in this book, it felt so real and warm.
All in all, this is a wonderful book! Even though I didn’t love it as much as Simon vs. it’s a sweet, relatable, fast-paced and touching book, with awesome characters and dynamics, that I highly recommend.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Becky Albertalli
I am so in love with this book, I can’t even put it into words! Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is one of my all-time favorite books ever! My first feeling when I finished it was that I wanted to turn back to the first page and reread it all again right away. Now I need to read everything that Becky Albertalli writes, I don’t ever want to leave her wonderful universe.
This is such a beautiful addictive love story, it’s so honest and real and full of diversity, charm and feelings. I can’t put into words how much I love this book, I am completely blown away! From the very first page, the story just pulled me in and I could not put it down. I read it feverishly and finished it in one sitting, immediately wanting to go right back at re-read it all again!
I love everything about this book; the story, the characters, the beginning, the ending, the writing style, the humor, the emotions, the… everything!
The story is so charming and sweet and just pulls you in. In brief, it’s about sixteen-year-old Simon who has not yet come out as gay, but is trying to figure out how and when to tell his secret without the big drama.
“Sometimes it seems like everybody knows who I am except me.”
Instead, he shares his thoughts and feelings with his email friend “Blue”. The relationship with Blue grows more and more serious, and Simon soon wishes to know his real identity. But when the emails falls into the wrong hands, Simon gets blackmailed by his class mate Martin to fix him up with Simon’s friend Abby, and Simon’s life starts to get even more complicated.
The way Becky Albertalli writes is simply amazing. This is such a fast read, I felt like I was flying through this book (even though I tried to slow down, not ever wanting it to end). I loved the way you got to know Simon and Blue via their email correspondence and I also really enjoyed the mystery element of trying to figure out Blue’s real identity (even though I have to admit I kind of guessed at an early stage…).
And the characters, Simon, Blue, Abby, Leah and all the others, I don’t even know where to start… These characters are what made the story! I adored every single one of them as the story unfolded. Simon is quirky and sweet and has so much humor, sarcasm and sassiness you just love him immediately. And his friends were so amazing; sweet, fun and supportive. I also have to say something about his parents. The way Becky Albertalli portrayed them was so refreshing, that she allowed them to be both supportive and flawed, that their need to make a big deal out of something and be super-supportive and open-minded actually was the thing that kept Simon from coming out to them.
About ‘coming out’, Becky Albertalli really nails it when she makes Simon turn this around and say things like
“I actually hate when people say that [they feel secure in their masculinity]. I mean, I feel secure in my masculinity, too. Being secure in your masculinity isn’t the same as being straight”
“Don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default?”
I could go on forever about how wonderful and amazing this book is, but all I really want to say is… READ IT! Just writing and thinking about it now brings on a big smile all over my face and makes me want to pick it up and re-read it right away.
Also, I so much want to eat Oreo now...
Find out more about Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and the author here: Becky Albertalli
Hi! I'm Annie, a Swedish bookworm, YA addict and coffee lover, who writes romantic YA books in English. I'm the author of the Angelheart Saga series (First Came Forever and Forever Disguised).
I love YA books and want to share what I read with you too, so check out my reading tips here!
Below you can find the reviews per author as well.