What If It’s Us by dream team Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera is a story about two boys who met by chance in New York City, but leave without exchanging details. They both regret letting this slip by and attempt to track each other down. An adorable dual perspective love story ensues.
I went into this expecting a cutesy romance, and that’s certainly what I got! It was fun and cute and all that I was looking for from the brain child of Becky and Adam. However, I must say that I was not blown away by it. It was nice but not exceptional. It was fun but didn’t light a fire in my heart.
I liked the characters well enough but there was nothing hugely original about any of them. Our cast of side characters in the form of Dylan, Samantha, Jessie and Ethan amongst others could be interchangeable with any other YA contemporary cutesy romance novel (Especially Simon). Arthur was sweet and so was Ben, and I enjoyed that their instalove had something standing in the way, if only for a small portion of the book. It stopped it being so cringey. I also liked that their dates weren’t perfect; often YA sets an unrealistic standard for romance and especially dates. I enjoy that things were a bit awkward and the financial concerns of a seventeen year old were addressed. We don’t have a pair of kids going on a perfect date at a super fancy expensive restaurant, we just see them piss about in an arcade instead.
One of my main gripes, however, was the lack of substance. A romance on its own can be a little bland and usually needs some deeper themes running through to ground the story and give it a point. In Simon, for example, we saw an ongoing discussion of the treatment of young gay people and the concept of coming out, which certainly made me as someone who hasn’t had to go through that think more about the topic. This story doesn’t have an angle like this however. It’s simply a cutesy romance with no real substance. I felt like it tried at points; there was moments where we are shown the reality of the treatment of gay people and times when Ben discusses his heritage and how as a Puerto Rican who doesn’t look very Puerto Rican, he is treated. There was potential there but these themes were undeveloped and not present enough to create an impact.
Another struggle I found was the fact that it was a dual perspective story with both perspectives being sixteen/seventeen year old boys both with a male and female best friend. By the time I’d really got to grips with who was who, it was nearly the end of the story! I found the writing styles and speech etc to be quite indistinguishable from one another and perhaps more could have been done at the start of the story to divide Ben and Arthur’s stories. I kept forgetting which backstory details belonged to each of the two MCs.
Overall, I liked this book a lot and found it a fun and light read. I read the whole thing in two sittings so it was nice and quick, I’d definitely recommend, however it was missing a layer to me. I felt the absence of an impactful storyline and felt that further exploration of how the boys were affected by social issues would have really made this book.
I received a review copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my thoughts or opinions. Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for sending this my way!