What if it’s us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

What if it's us

A wonderful love story that’s easy to read and hard to put down. Truly great characterisation but I’d have liked a more definite ending.

He’s never been kissed but Arthur is a romantic and a believer in the universe. He’s only in New York for the summer but he’s already fallen for the city and he’s about to fall for Ben. But only if he can find him again. After a meeting that could have been a scene from a Broadway show, the two boys go their separate ways. In a city of eight million people it seems unlikely they’ll ever meet again. Both boys, however, start a quest to find the other. That should be the difficult part. But, when they do finally meet, they find that it’s harder than they thought to nail that perfect first date – even after three do-overs. Perhaps they should stop trying. Maybe life isn’t really like a Broadway play. But what if it is? What if their relationship is meant to be?

This is a wonderful light-hearted romantic comedy that includes all the classic set-pieces of the genre including a romantic first encounter, failure to exchange numbers, and a bumpy ride when the do meet (with an inevitable break-up and reconciliation). Like all good rom-coms they also have the statutory best friend. In this case it’s Dylan, whose dodgy heart ultimately paves the way for the climax. The only difference from most stories in this genre is, of course, the fact that this is a love story between two boys.

The writing itself is easy to read and hard to put down but that’s hardly surprising. This is, after all, the work of two hugely successful writers: Becky Albertalli wrote Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda while Adam Silvera is the author of They Both Die at the End. The fact it’s a collaborative work is very well hidden and it’s not possible to tell who wrote which section. Did they pool ideas, write different sections or take a character each?

The characters are what make this book special. Both are likeable and appealing and the alternating perspectives gives us the opportunity to get inside the thought processes of both Arthur and Ben. (Arthur is undoubtedly my personal favourite.)

The supporting characters are equally well-developed. I particularly liked both sets of parents. It’s good to read how they support their son’s relationships although I did wonder how many couples (irrespective of their sexuality) would be willing to introduce their mum and dad to the parents of their new partner quite so quickly. And what are the chances of them all hitting it off so well? This is, however, in keeping with the largely upbeat and uplifting nature of this story.

This leads me to my only issue with the plot. After a dramatic climax, the story looks set to be resolved with all loose ends neatly tied up and I was fully expecting to award this book the maximum 5 star rating. The ending, however, slightly marred my enjoyment. The story is left deliberately open-ended and, while I can understand why the writers and their editor chose this option, I wanted a more definite ending. I’m aware this is a very personal view and I fully expect other readers to strongly disagree with me on this point and to consider the ending totally perfect. I’d, therefore, recommend that you read the book and judge for yourself.

If you enjoyed this, why not read one of the writers’ other books – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli or They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Alternatively, I keep meaning to read Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green.

ISBN: 978-1471176395
Date: October 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 448
Author’s Websites: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

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