What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli (HarperTeen, October 9)

what-if-its-usThis was a sweet, charming love story about two boys who meet by chance at a  post office in New York City, have an epic time trying to find each other again (after failing to exchange any info at the post office), and then share a lot of tender and awkward moments as they start dating.

I really appreciated all the awkward and difficult (but super ordinary) things that Arthur and Ben had to deal with as they figured out how to date. There was lots of teenage bumbling and miscommunication. All the moments they shared felt so honest and often that meant they were not neat and perfect, but messy and confusing, sometimes romantic, sometimes cringe-worthy. Ben and Arthur come from different backgrounds (Ben is Puerto Rican and grew up in New York, Arthur is a white boy from Georgia in New York for the summer). All the things that came up between them surrounding race and class and culture felt very real. It was a lighthearted story, but it certainly delved into various serious things that teenagers (and humans in general) have to deal with.

What I loved most about the book, though, and honestly what kept me reading, was the supporting cast. I enjoyed Ben and Arthur’s romance, but I adored their families and friends. It was so refreshing to read a YA book with gay main characters who both had families that were super supportive of them. I loved the different ways their parents were part of their lives. I especially loved Ben’s friendship with Dylan. It was a joy to read about such a comfortable, tender, open, and meaningful friendship between two teenage boys. It was a pleasure to read about Ben and Arthur falling in love, but that their love story happened in the midst of their friends and family, in a way that felt both realistic and hopeful, was what I loved best bout the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed this lighthearted New York romance. It didn’t feel especially deep or complicated, which is just fine. It was a simple pleasure to read. I don’t think it had the emotional depth of any of Silvera’s other books (especially History Is All You Left Me, which is my absolute favorite book of his and utterly incredible), but it was still a fun read. There was just enough tension and realistic teenage angst to make it satisfying–but not too much.

 

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