What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera (448 pages)
What If It’s Us Balances the Highs and Lows of Young Love
In What If It’s Us, maybe Arthur shouldn’t have followed Ben into that post office in Manhattan, but his impulsive decision starts their love-at-first-sight (at least on Arthur’s end) relationship. Ben’s a native New Yorker and is stuck in summer school with his ex-boyfriend while Arthur’s interning at his mother’s law firm, but will be heading back to Georgia at the end of the summer. At the post office, Arthur and Ben talk a little, flirt a little, and when a flash mob breaks out, Ben leaves. But he’s still thinking about Arthur the next day and Arthur’s looking for Ben too. They find each other (wouldn’t be much of a story if they didn’t!) and start dating. But with Arthur’s departure quickly approaching, did the universe bring them together for a reason or will their love story be a crueler twist of fate?
A Triumph of Voice with Enough Love to Go Around
One of the great things about this novel is the characters’ clear and powerful voices. Arthur is funny, dramatic, and brimming with emotion. Ben’s quieter, more reserved, and plagued by self-doubt. They’re almost opposites, and while that’s a tough balance to strike, this novel was written by not one, but two powerhouse authors. Albertalli and Silvera dig deep into their characters, resulting in a sharply-told dual-POV story. Arthur and Ben don’t just have strong voices, but they’re passionate as well. Arthur loves Broadway and Ben’s working on writing his own story. Their adoration for those interests (and more) radiates from the page and pushes them into the stratosphere of relatable characters that I wouldn’t mind knowing in real life.
Arthur and Ben’s romance is many things—sappy, cute, dramatic, fated, and yet somehow not at all fated at the same time. There are highs and lows, false starts, misunderstandings, and genuine gestures. Their relationship felt real to me and I loved experiencing that while reading. And while their relationship is the focal point of the novel, the secondary characters shine too—most of all, Ben’s best friend, Dylan. He’s confident, funny, and full of energy, and I adored when he popped in to provide levity and laughter. This book made me laugh out loud multiple times, which is always refreshing.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
What If It’s Us is an admirable collaboration between two top-tier authors. The characters are emotional and funny, and the story is full of heart with that necessary dose of reality. Pick this one up if you love Manhattan, enjoy a little drama, and adore the resounding joys (and even the stinging perils) of young love.
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Jamie Mitchell is a writer, library assistant, former bookseller, and all-around lover of the written word. She’s currently working on her fifth novel, and if you’re wondering where the other four are, they’re safe on her laptop and in need of rewriting. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, and enjoys traveling, bookstagramming and experimenting with gluten-free flours.
Favourite book: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Favourite brunch spot: 1823 Bakehouse