What If It’s Us
Author: Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera
Page Count: 437
Original Publication Date: 2018
Genre(s): Young adult, Contemporary, LGBT
“I believe in love at first sight. Fate, the universe, all of it. But not how you’re thinking. I don’t mean it in the our souls were split and you’re my other half forever and ever sort of way. I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.”
Arthur is from a small town in Georgia, but this summer he’s interning at his mom’s law firm in New York. He misses his friends, and the weather, and not being a tourist. But he absolutely loves Broadway and he’ll be dammed if he doesn’t get to see Hamilton before going home!
Ben is a New York native and in summer school, AKA on the verge of repeating his junior year of high school. To make matters worse, he’s stuck in summer school with his very recent ex. If only he hadn’t dated Hudson—and Dylan hadn’t dated Harriett—then all four of them could still be friends. What a mess.
Cue meet-cute at the post office, where Arthur and Ben meet—and then get separated by a flash mob. What are the odds, right? But maybe the odds are in their favor, because the universe has more in store for these two strangers.
What If It’s Us is the contemporary gay romance you need in your life right now. The novel alternates between first-person POV chapters told by Arthur and Ben. The story follows Arthur and Ben during their whirlwind summer together in New York. And because it’s a romance story, I don’t want to say much else for fear of spoiling the experience. But trust me when I say you want to experience this novel.
I was extremely weary at first—I was not interested in the characters or the story or the vibe. I picked up the book because Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and They Both Die At the End are two novels I enjoyed (especially TBDATE please go read that immediately), so odds were I would love this collab between the two writers. But the story was hard to get into, and moved pretty slowly. I wasn’t invested.
But eventually, once Arthur and Ben finally reunited and started seeing each other, I began to really get into the story and find myself enjoying it. It was hard, though—Arthur was so awkward and the two of them were putting so much pressure on themselves, it was cringe-y. But honest. I mean, I remembering being 16 and acting like a fool, so I get it. It was real. And I found myself loving both Arthur and Ben, as well as Arthur + Ben as a couple. I was grinning like an idiot at their love, and I love that.
What I love the most about Albertalli and Silvera is that they are both phenomenal at capturing teen voices. Dialogue is so so so important in YA novels, because adult writers sometimes have no idea how teenagers actually speak, and also because dialogue is the biggest aspect of YA lit. But these two nail it every time—it feels natural and realistic, and often hilarious. The best character award for What If It’s Us is easily 100% Dylan. I want a Dylan. Someone please be a Dylan for me. SO FUNNY.
I’m really glad I stuck with the novel, because it was a cute story that I definitely needed in my life. If you’re feeling a little down-in-the-dumps-ish, this gay teen romance will give you a jump start, or at least Dylan will make you laugh, either way it’s a win-win.