I only put this book down 20 minutes before writing this review. I’ve never reviewed a book so quickly, but felt like I needed to put everything I felt about this down immediately. Huge thanks to Olivia over at Simon & Schuster for sending me this!
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it. Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?
I’m not a fan of love-at-first-sight books, at all. Most of my favourite characters are born of anguish and darkness. But there was something about this book that tugged on my heartstrings and made me feel ever so romantic. It was so light, so fluffy, and just such a lovely read, because now I feel very, very happy now I’ve finished it.
What If It’s Us is a collaborative novel by best friend/bestselling duo Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli. They’re known for writing very different stories (Becky focuses on happy endings, while Adam writes like he’s burning your heart from your chest) but usually these books focus on LGBT+ characters – and this is no different. What If It’s Us follows the lives of Ben and Arthur after chance – or the universe – brings them together. They know there’s something pulling them together, but with Arthur only in New York for a month, and Ben still trying to get over his ex-boyfriend, things don’t look so promising. What follows is a love story with many ups and downs. They can’t seem to get it right, and even with the constant signs from the universe, things just aren’t being perfect. But they know that’s ok.
It was so lovely to see these two authors collaborate and to write such a sweet love story, and it was brilliant that things the other characters did were called out if they were wrong. Ben calls out Arthur on his stupid comment about ‘being white’, and in another chapter Arthur tears Ben a new one for being ridiculously late to absolutely everything. But it works, because the characters are striving to make the other person a better person. There are moments when the universe works for them, and moments where it works against them, but the boys are determined to see it through.
The characters are so wonderfully different that I don’t really know who my favourite was. I’m leaning towards Ben but Arthur was so sweet. The characters are quite clear to tell who is written by who, and there are definitely some subtle references to their other books which was nice. I loved reading a book that’s so fresh and in the moment, especially with some nods to Instagram dramas and favourite memes. There are scenes that show that it’s not all perfect, even when you’re happy. There’s also some fantastic representation in here too, with a great mix of teenagers from different economic backgrounds, religions, skin tones and sexualities. I think that’s what I love most about books like this; they’re real in what they represent with the characters.
What If It’s Us is a beautiful story about first big loves and first big heartbreaks. It’s a book that definitely reminds the reader to live every single moment as if it were their last, and to cherish moments we have with our loved ones – as things could easily change in a heartbeat. It’s a book that cherishes the teenage ups and downs of life in a summer break. If this book doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.
Final thought: 100% wholehearted happiness in book form. 5/5