Published by Simon & Schuster UK, Simon and Schuster Australia on October 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
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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?
What If It’s Us is an adorable ‘meet cute’ book about finding someone who you’ve met and hit it off with – but with no name or social media account to go off, it’s relying on fate to bring you back together (and let’s face it – lots of desperation and social media stalking). I thought Ben and Arthur were an adorable couple with a few issues to work through – Arthur going through his first gay relationship while moving to New York for the first time, and Ben trying to get over his ex. I liked how the issues they were facing made them feel like a real couple – jealousy, drama, insecurities and all that as a part of it.
The first half of the book focuses on them finding one another again after their first meeting, while the second half focuses on working through their relationship and figuring out how it fits within their lives. There is so much depth here – from clinging on to the friendships that they have, to the honeymoon period that they’re facing, to understanding the effect that people have on your life. While it was a bit slow towards the end, it felt really realistic especially with the angst of Arthur leaving eventually. My issue with the book is how the relationship was basically founded upon ruthlessly stalking someone else on social media and a bit of wishful thinking – Arthur seemed completely obsessed with finding Ben again, to the point where he frequents the places where he first bumped into him. I was quite uncomfortable with this notion, especially since Ben had issues of his own at this time.
But Arthur? I barely know him. I guess that’s any relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.
One thing I liked about the novel is how the couple’s friends and family form a big part of their life. Arthur has the cutest, most supportive family who wants to get involved in his love life. I liked how he obsessed over his crush for Ben and even got his co-workers involved, which is something a few of us can relate to. Ben on the other hand tends to dramaticise everything, he can be a bit full on at times for his friends and family. I felt like he was overly dramatic at times. On the one hand, he gets jealous at Arthur looking at his ex’s social media profile, but yet he’s allowed to keep photos of himself and his ex together. That made no sense but because of how forgiving and obsessed with Arthur he was himself, it seemed to be okay.
I did have an issue with Ben’s best friend Dylan however, who is straight but flirts with him incessantly. I know they are close and they are used to it but when you ‘joke’ about having sex with your gay best friend that much, it kind of seems a bit like you’re leading them on (even though Ben knew that’s just who he was). He is straight and gets into a relationship with a barista called Samantha, and keeps on joking to her that she’s his “Future Wife” just after the 2nd date. Samantha gets freaked out and explains to him to back off because of her past obsessive relationship, and while he does back off initially, later on in the novel he continues his behaviour which I found kind of disrespectful and creepy, especially since she already spoke out about boundaries. This is something I wish was better addressed in the book, because it takes a lot to speak out when someone makes you uncomfortable like that.
But maybe this isn’t how life works. Maybe it’s all about people coming into your life with for a little while and you take what they give you and use it on your next friendship or relationship. And if you’re lucky, maybe some people pop back in after you thought they were gone for good.
Having read both of the author’s books, I could pick their writing styles within the novel – Becky adding the fun, innocent dialogue through Arthur and Adam writing Ben with the deep, thought-provoking concepts. While both of the authors definitely have different writing styles, the melding together of it was slightly awkward. I liked how both characters were Puerto Rican (although one is whiter than the other) which they explored as well in the novel.
What If It’s Us is a modern day love story between a gay couple set in New York – and it couldn’t be more adorable! I loved the depth that was offered for each character and how their lives, including friends, family and insecurities were fleshed out. It really is an illustration of how a couple can get together based on pure resolve and work through their issues together, though not without its issues. I loved the epilogue for the novel – it felt so realistic and was so touching. The novel has already been optioned for a film which will be adorable.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!
What If It’s Us is available from Australian bookstores from RRP$16.99 or from The Book Depository.
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