What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silveri

Published: 18th October 2018
Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
Pages: 437
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

I love collaboration novels because it is interesting to see the two different authors and voices coming together to make a single story. Both Albertalli and Silvera bring their characters to life on the page and their uniqueness and their complicated relationships and histories are captivating to read which results in an incredibly sweet story that pulls you along through the endearment of the two narrators.

This is a massive character driven novel. The relationships each character has with their friends and family is the centre point of their lives and the different relationships they have with those around them drive this story. The combination of the quiet, reserved Ben with outgoing and talkative Arthur sounds like it wouldn’t work but it does, they are super cute together and watching them fall in love and develop a friendship in unconventional and uncertain steps was great. Both Arthur and Ben are flawed but they also are allowed to grow in this story and find their feet which is amazing.

I love Arthur’s optimism and hope in the world around him, but I also love that he isn’t entirely idealistic either and understands there are harsh realities in the world as well. Compared to Ben’s introverted life of playing Sims and writing a fantasy novel the two are total opposites in some aspects but have a lot of similarities in others. Their personalities come across so well on the page that Arthur jumps right off while Ben’s reserved nature sits quietly in the background.

Ben’s story explores the issues about people overlooking his culture and assumptions made based solely on appearances. I like that he gets to show off his culture at home so freely and that we understand as readers without it feeling like a Message is being forced upon us. Ben’s conversations are important and perfectly suited in story and even with misunderstandings it’s a great way to get Arthur and Ben to get to know each other, it adds to the fragility of their relationship and the newness of knowing one another.

As someone who hates being late to things I cannot cope with Ben’s complete casual nature of being late to everything. It would drive me absolutely insane, especially if there are reservations or starting times to adhere to. So that is some fun stress and anxiety in the story I can side with Arthur on. I loved though how these factors impact on their fragile relationship, which is an odd thing to say I know, but sometimes it doesn’t always need to be huge events, sometimes people conflict and clash over little things and that’s where tension comes from.

There are cute romance scenes and small gestures, little relationship moments that make you smile; Arthur and Ben respect each other’s limitations and boundaries, and their nervousness and eagerness to know one another is incredibly sweet while they try and work out what they’re doing. These two make even the simplest things seem sweet and wonderful. The entire world revolves around them and even when other friends get involved, it is so much the Ben and Arthur show it’s pure delight going on this road of discovery with them both.

Do-overs are a big factor in this and I for one would like a do over of that ending because I demand more concrete answers and the ending I have fabricated in my mind while nice may not be right. Thank goodness there is a sequel coming because I cannot not know how this plays out. I love these two and I need to stay invested in their lives for a lot longer.

You can purchase What If It’s Us via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Published: 11th April 2017Goodreads badge
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love-she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness-except for the part where she is.
Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right? 

There is so much to love about this book. I found myself smiling like an idiot at times, other times with just a slight constant smile because everything was so wonderful, and not even in a cheesy way. What is wonderful about this is Molly is falling for the non-typical guy. The Reid’s of the world, not the Wills like movies and books have told us in the past. WHICH I LOVE!

I am in love with Reid myself, but I am a dag who actually loves when people are in love with something and don’t care whether it’s uncool (which it very rarely is). Plus he’s a sweetie and isn’t some profound teen who has Insights and Thoughts about the world. It’s not that Will isn’t a sweetie, which is important because then you realise she isn’t just liking Reid because Will is a bad person. She likes Reid because Reid is her type of guy, Will isn’t. He’s nice, they may have been a good first boyfriend team as Molly says, but Will isn’t Molly’s type. Will was actually great, he seemed to mock his own hipsterness and he also wasn’t the guy who had Thoughts and Insight and Opinions that wowed our main girl. Albertelli did very well on that front.

Molly’s reservations are not unjust (well yes, but no). She doesn’t overreact; she doesn’t go wild and crazy in rebellion. I will admit I may have liked it more than Simon (forgive me), but I do love them both. I also know yearning for a boyfriend isn’t the be all and end all, and shouldn’t be shown to be, but I think how Albertelli shows Molly’s twenty six crushes and desire for a boyfriend is different than just wanting one. She wants to fit in, she wants to have a connection with her sister and her girlfriend. I think because Molly feels like an outsider at times she just wants what other people get seemingly so effortlessly. The sisterly relationship between Molly and Cassie is wonderful and realistic and Albertelli highlights how hard it can be being sisters and twins but also being your own people. I also like the friendships in this, they’re complicated and new and weird but it works.

There are so many positive things in this book; there is a realistic and healthy approach to teens around love, sex, body etc, also a great diversity of characters with numerous POC and queer relationships that are portrayed as normal non-occurrences. There is the inclusion of a racist character which puts things into a perfect uncomfortable position because after reading about this normal family with two mums and a lesbian daughter, plus multiple different genders and relationships one racist grandmother throws a spanner into the works and makes you realise just how dumb she is being and how ludicrous her arguments are.

There is so much I could talk about this book, the characters are incredible, the dialogue is incredible, the entire book is incredible. For every amazing moment in this book I want to mention I think of three more. There’s so much that makes this a wonderful book, not only the characters but the messages Albertelli sends out about who you are and the relationships you have. It’s a fantastic book and one everyone should read.

You can purchase The Upside of Unrequited via the following

Dymocks | Book Depository

QBD | Fishpond

BookWorld | Amazon

Wordery | Amazon Aust