Albertalli, Becky and Adam Silvera. “What If It’s Us”, HarperTeen, 2018.
Ben and Arthur
Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart story about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.
Arthur has comes to New York for the summer but finds himself involved in a romance. .Ben believes that the universe needs to mind its business. He wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things if the universe had had his back. When Arthur and Ben meet at the post office. . . ? We follow Arthur and Ben who instantly hit it off, but things go wrong and they don’t get each other’s number. We follow the two as they attempt to find each and then go on a series of bad dates. Along with the drama are the complicated relationships that exist between friends, parents and ex-boyfriends, as well as discussions around identity. Both Ben and Arthur are gay, and Ben is also Puerto-Rican and Arthur is Jewish. This isn’t a coming out story— both guys were out to their parents and friends.
Ben has an ex-boyfriend that he may or may not be over and he regrets messing up the friendship group because of their breakup. Arthur can’t help but feel jealous of Arthur’s experience and brings unrealistic expectations into the relationship. Real life romance is messy and that is what we see here, but with fluff and cuteness.
Both Ben and Arthur have a friendship group that is going through some turmoil. Ben’s group has been torn apart by intra-group dating and Arthur feels distant from his friends since he moved to New York, and he’s sure one of them doesn’t accept him coming out as gay. Friendship complications are depicted well here. done here and friends are just as complicated as relationships. Ben’s issues with his group falling apart because some friends are now exes is something we are familiar with.
Both Ben and Arthur have many flaws that keep them from connecting properly. Ben is really proud and doesn’t let anyone in. He struggles to be vulnerable and uses a cool exterior so no one can really hurt him. Arthur is over-eager and jealous and decides things in his head without letting other people share their perspectives. Throughout the book you really see how they change and develop, and how the relationship improves them both as individuals.