This review is spoiler free.
‘I barely know him. I guess that is every relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.‘
Published: 2018, by Simon & Schuster Children’s UK.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance
Contains: Implied Sexual Content, Racism, Homophobia, Anger, Mental Health, Panic Attacks, Strong Language, Crude Humour
‘What If It’s Us’ tells the story of two teens’ summer long romance. Arthur, who took the opportunity to spend his summer in New York, even if the price to pay is working for his mother’s firm, and Ben; a boy trapped in summer school with his ex-boyfriend. However, if Broadway taught Arthur anything, it’s that the universe provides a showstopping romance when you least expect it… Ben thinks otherwise.
I have a difficult relationship with Becky Albertalli’s work; there’s always something that just doesn’t hook me. However, Adam Silvera’s writing is some of my favourites, so I knew that I had to give this book a try regardless.
The story itself is where the book seems to lack. Although, the characters themselves are unique and provide excellent diversity, showing the wide majority of YA fiction who’s boss, the plot itself is near enough non-existent. As I’d feared when I first heard of the release of this book, there is very little plot outside of the romance between Arthur and Ben. The story is simple; the two meet, they part, and then they find each other again. The story just seems to slow down after their ‘not-quite-but-still-kinda-insta-love’ until the novel’s ambiguous ending. For a book this size, it being slightly over average for this genre, I expected there to be more content. It just seems like the authors relied on the characters themselves, or concentrated on their creation too much – there was very little else.
That being said, the characters were interesting. Ben and Arthur are polar opposites; they have different tastes, different goals, and come from different worlds, yet they still seem to make their relationship work. The interactions between them both were continuously adorable, if a little awkward at times. Their first date was excruciatingly awkward to read, yet I feel as if that made the entire concept more realistic; the real world is messy, and this book accurately portrayed that. Ben’s character, written by Silvera, is recovering from the aftermath of a messy break up. He’s distant and reserved throughout, before his development where he gradually learns to be more honest around Arthur. However, Arthur, written by Albertalli, was more of an annoyance to me. He is constantly selfish and outspoken, and although, his apologies are welcomed, I didn’t see any development in him to become a better person. He just seemed to get away with every mistake he made after a quick apology. Plus, the broadway references were endearing at first, but get old very quickly.
Overall, I didn’t love or hate this book. The characters were relatable and their relationship was sweet to witness develop, but it still left me feeling unfulfilled.