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