The King and Queen of Contemporary YA, Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, have teamed up to create the gay NYC love story you didn’t know you needed. I know this book doesn’t come out until October but I started reading the eARC I had and I just could not put it down. I devoured this book. The alternating viewpoints are so unique and the world is so rich and the love story definitely drew me in. I’ve read Simon and Leah by Albertalli and Adam Silvera is on my to-read list,but now he’s sky-rocketed much higher on the list because of What if It’s Us?
What If It’s Us takes place in NYC during the summer and is told in alternating chapters by Ben and Arthur. Ben is a life-long Puerto Rican New Yorker who’s toiling away in summer school alongside his newly minted ex-boyfriend. Arthur is a NYC summer transplant from Georgia interning at his mother’s law firm. The universe plays matchmaker when Arthur and Ben meet at a post-office near Arthur’s office where Ben is trying to mail a box of things back to his ex-boyfriend. They meet, they chat, sparks seem to fly, but then a flash mob breaks in and they get separated. Arthur knows he needs to find this guy, but he doesn’t even know Ben’s name. I don’t think it’s a spoiler alert to say the universe plays out and they do meet again, but it’s not exactly a storybook romance. There’s jealousy and do-over first dates and misses connections and all that jazz. It’s a realistic but fun contemporary love story sprawled out across NYC with some really fun characters, like Arthur’s out-of-work computer nerd Dad and Ben’s best friend Dylan and his new girlfriend Samantha. There’s also a ton of nerdiness in here like Harry Potter jokes and Broadway sing-a-longs and wizard novels and more. It’s really sweet and wholesome overall and made me feel really emboldened.
The characters of Ben and Arthur feel extremely rich and thought out and have such eccentricities that come out in their respective chapters. I love alternating chapters and different voices and this book did not disappoint. I even enjoyed the parents of each guy, which is not an easy thing to say about a lot of YA literature. The parents weren’t caricatures but real people I felt like I knew as well as any of the teenage characters. I did keep forgetting how old Ben and Arthur were, still in HS, because it felt like they had a lot of freedom and grown-up thoughts, but I guess that’s because NYC is a little more accessible to teens than other places.
This book is so fun and so sweet and such a good read and if it isn’t already on your TBR list it needs to be ASAP. It comes out on October 9th and it’s a must-read for this fall.