Review: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

Title: What If It’s Us
Author: Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera
Rating: ★★½
Summary: Arthur is in New York for the summer, hoping that the universe will deliver a show-stopping romance worthy of a Broadway play. Ben, on the other hand, just wants the universe to mind its business; being witness to a proposal while in line to ship a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things? Not cool, universe. But what happens when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office? What if they get separated – is it nothing? What if they get reunited – does that make it something? 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?


FYI: this review contains spoilers.

There were many reasons why I picked up What If It’s Us: (1) I fell in love with Love, Simon 1000% and needed more Becky Albertalli-written soft queer boys from Georgia in my life to distract me from a Check, Please! withdrawal. (Soft queer boys from Georgia are apparently my nemeses???) (2) I saw that gorgeously illustrated cover on display at my library and literally could not help myself the day before a week-long vacation. (This is, and continues to be, A Problem. Pls send help.) (3) It’s a young adult teenage love story that includes a Post Office flash mob meet-cute and just so happens to be about two boys falling in love. (4) Sara absolutely adored it.

But there were also two big reasons why it just didn’t do anything for me: (1) it featured my all-time most loathed narration technique of dual first-person POV with the extra-special added bonus of one character starting a thought… and then the other ending it. (UGH NO JUST STOP) I find this technique so incredibly lazy, and I had trouble every single chapter trying to figure out through whose POV I was reading. On the one hand, yes, having the chapter title be the POV character is great! BUT my brain literally does not pay attention to chapter titles. So until someone mentioned a name, it was basically a toss-up as to who was narrating. 🤷‍♀️ (2) I thought Arthur was a little bit Too Much in the way he reacted to events in the story, such as Ben still talking to his ex, the Hamilton Ticket Fiasco, or his two best friends dating and not telling him. It seemed like his frustration and anger was inappropriate to the circumstances (or else I have completely blacked out how it feels to be a teenager), and I found him too self-absorbed and privileged to really enjoy his parts of the story.

I understand that not every YA rom-com novel has to have a happy ending. Two seventeen-year-old boys having the foresight and finesse to amicably break up at the end of the summer before their cozy new relationship goes down in flames could happen in theory – but it’s not the ending I wanted for this story in particular. Am I wrong for wanting Arthur and Ben to stay together through their senior year, missing one another over Skype and then being over-the-top with their PDA when they do get to see each other? What’s the problem with a chapter or two of their super cheesy text chains or sweet “I miss you” Instagram posts?

I know that having them break-up was the Adult Thing to Do and actually made them grow as people and blah blah blah, but I wanted romance, dammit! I didn’t want them maybe reconnecting as college freshman. I wanted Art and Dylan to plan an adorable surprise of “oh sorry sweetie I can’t make it to New York it’s too expensive” and so Ben has to third-wheel his own senior prom but then Oh My God there Art is in his tux with a single long-stem rose and they dance together and it’s beautiful. (But can you imagine this? Because I can and it’s making me tear up rn.)

Albertalli and Silvera had the best building blocks for a great love story – and I get why some people went gaga over it – but it wasn’t the right story for me.

Month in Review: October 2018

month in review - oct

Favorite Media

I knew The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory was going to be a fun, contemporary romance but boy did I NOT expect Guillory’s ability to write. Her characters are fully-fleshed, the plot flies, and everyone just happens to be non-white and non-hetero. (Woot.) Here’s to hoping I love The Wedding Date just as much!

Y’ALL. I binged the first two seasons of The Good Place in four days then sat on my couch and plaintively asked, “What do I do now?” out loud once I’d finished. The third season feels ~different somehow, but I can’t figure out if it’s because the crew is SPOILER[on earth] or because I’m not watching six episodes in a row on my iPad under a blanket. I have thought many times about rewatching the first two seasons because I loved them so much.

Stuff I Added to My Queue

Honestly, I have no idea where I first encountered Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young (maybe on Lit Hub?), but I absolutely love the cover and the summary kind of hits all my buttons, too.

A fellow librarian purchased Adib Khorram’s Darius the Great Is Not Okay for the young adult collection, and the cover intrigued me so much that I felt compelled to read the summary… and that sounded so interesting that I added it to my TBR. #whoops

I will pretty much look into anything that mentions time travel, but not all time travel books are the same. Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen has so many different parts to it that I can’t wait to figure out how they all fit. PLUS it’s set in the ’90s. AND I love that cover.

A NEW ALL SOULS BOOK aka Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera seems to be inspiring both great and terrible reviews, but I adored Love, Simon and have They Both Die at the End on my TBR, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a teenage romcom featuring two guys. (AND THAT COVER.)

On My Radar

  • I made myself a blog calendar via Google Sheets to better organize the content I want to include on thewasofshall – very heavily influenced by Shealea over at That Bookshelf Bitch btw – and it’s either going to make me extra a+ organized or super overwhelmed.
  • I got so many books this month that I have enough for another book haul video!
  • I’ve been trying to be more active in seeking out ARCs, and I was recently approved for three great-sounding ones: Here and Now and Then (01/29/19), My Favorite Half-Night Stand (12/04/18), and You Know You Want This: ‘Cat Person’ and Other Stories (01/15/19). It means I have to figure out when to read them but then again I also get to read them.

What were YOU up to in October? Let me know!