But maybe this isn’t how life works. Maybe it’s all about people coming into your life 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.
Welcome to the start of me getting caught up on my book reviews! Stay tuned…
This was one of the top hyped YA books in 2018. I remember hoards of people trying to get an ARC at Bookcon, which maybe influenced my opinion of this book and why it wasn’t high on my list. But you should always see why something is popular?
What If It’s Us
By Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Published Date: October 2018
Read Date: May 2019
Genre: YA Romance
Rating: 2.5/5 Moose
Arthur Seuss (I know.) is interning at his mother’s NYC law office the summer before his senior year. One day he has to run to the post office, where he runs into Ben Alejo, who is getting ready to ship back his ex-boyfriend’s stuff. They talk, but no numbers are exchanged, but it is a decent meet cute.
What do you do next? What do you do when the first date doesn’t go well? Or the second first date….or the third?
Arthur Seuss – Arthur is in NYC for the summer while his mom works on a large case. He misses his friends in Georgia, but is excited for all the musicals he can get.
Benjamin Alejo – Ben isn’t having as great of a summer. He’s recently dumped his boyfriend, he’s in summer school, and his best friend is in love again.
Rants, Raves, and Reviews
I’ll admit, I almost DNF’d this book very early on. Part of me went in with some heavy issues already, as I am not a big fan of Albertalli’s books. (She’s pretty awesome as a person though!) But I tried to clear my mind of everything that could be negative! Plus I really loved Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End, and so I hoped everything would balance!
And then very early on we are told that Arthur’s last name is Seuss, and no, there is no relation.
Listen. I am someone who has to deal with a lot because of my last name. Even in the year of our lord 2019 (FAMILY GUY HAS BEEN ON THE AIR FOR 20 YEARS WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’RE THE FIRST TO MAKE THIS JOKE?) and I had someone explain to me what Meg Griffin’s real name is.
I get it. But Dr. Seuss is a pen. name. His real name is Theodor Geisel. Of course there is “no relation.” And I am not sure why this immediately set me off, but it did. It too me several days before I decided to pick the book up again.
Overall, I just….felt like this book was a good idea that actually had no drive. All the angst and drama is…. virtually proven to be worthless? It doesn’t even feel like real teen drama and angst. The entire book focuses on these two guy’s potential relationship and like…I don’t know. I don’t like my romance books like this? I need a B plot. And there were some attempts! Arthur’s parents are fighting and maybe are divorcing. Unfortunately they’re so flat that I can’t bring myself to care. And really, ultimately, we don’t need to?
Then, Arthur’s best friend Ethan hasn’t responded to their 1 on 1 text messages (but does to the group text!) ever since Arthur came out. And his reason for doing so is so ridiculous that I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like, maybe I am the vindictive one, but this screams “I am passive aggressively mad at you.”
And I’m sorry, you don’t avoid texting your proclaimed best friend after they drop (what they feel is) a huge bomb in your lap.
On Ben’s side, there is some brief tugging on his identity crisis. I honestly would have loved the entire book from Ben’s POV (surprise – Ben is written by Adam) so that we could focus more on his issues with being a “white passing Puerto Rican.” And with his anxiety about getting left behind, dealing with friends picking sides in break ups — Ben felt real.He felt like a guy who had a crush and was realizing the importance of getting his shit together.
Unfortunately it is all muddled together to just… be a book about a relationship that really lacks chemistry?
And all the musical references dates the book quickly. And I am someone who loves musicals, that says quite a bit. I mean, I remember the obsession with Hamilton, but this book…made me cringe.
In the end, there are aspects of the book I did enjoy. The Epilogue is well done, surprisingly. It is left fairly open ended and feeds into the possibility of your first love being the last, but also leans into how you need to experience life and not settle for your first love. It is the friendship that happens between the last chapter and the epilogue that I am so much more curious about.
If you like both Albertalli’s and Silvera’s work, then you have probably checked this book out already. If you are trying to expand your horizons by reading more queer literature that doesn’t feature someone coming out or having to come to terms with their sexuality, then maybe this is worth a read. Overall it feels a bit shallow, and I am so bummed I cannot gust about this book.