I picked up What If It’s Us after attending the Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera signing in Manchester this autumn with Beth. You can read her lovely review here!
I went into this book looking for something fun and fluffy and I was certainly not disappointed. Albertalli and Silvera do an excellent job at creating a story that is simultaneously a piece of easy comfort reading, full of broadway references and cute moments, and a book that deals with more serious challenges that we all find ourselves facing in our own relationships in real life.
Ben and Arthur’s love felt special to me, special enough that I could suspend my disbelief that they could have fallen in love in a matter of weeks, special because it was orchestrated and blessed by the cosmic randomness of the universe. It was heartwarming and I found that after a while I was standing on the sidelines of the romance pitch cheering Arthur’s name as well as Ben’s. I say ‘after a while’ because initially I found Arthur too ridiculous to actually like him. I can imagine getting on with Ben in real life but Arthur was too cringey to the point that I actually felt embarrassed for him. Still, I did learn to love Arthur because I realised that he is the inner freak out geek that all of us slightly obsessed bookworms are inside.
In terms of diversity this story was right on point. Silvera and Albertalli recognise their responsibility as widely read YA authors and don’t just do enough to be deemed hip and liberal – they create realities that genuinely empower and celebrate ever reader hailing from every race and sexuality reading.
Perhaps the only thing that let me down, and it was a little bit of a big let down, was the writing style. I had never read Silvera prior to What If Its Us but I found that the constant use of cultural symbols and random misplaced young people jargon was jarring and distasteful as someone who is actually a young person. WIIU felt like a glass half full in terms of language compared to Simon Vs. the Homosapien Agenda. It was clunky and unnecessarily colloquial. It is not a criticism of Silvera or Albertalli – they are both excellent writers – I simply feel in this case that this was a matter of personal taste and teenagers who sound like adults pretending to be teenagers is not a taste I like very much. It was artificial and in some places it really did stop me from enjoying this epic story.
I would certainly recommend this book, just go in knowing that it sounds a bit like it was written for you by a computer programme designed to be cool.
I give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars!
Keep on reading!
And thanks again Beth.