A fun story of Ben and Arthur, will they, won't they? A classic story of a doomed romance, or is it. Maybe, just maybe this is "the one". The first book in my 52 weeks, 52 books challenge of 2019.
What if it's us charts the adventure of two young men, Arthur who is only in New York for the summer but believes in Broadway miracles and dreams of playing the leading roll in his own fantastical musical in a magical universe of romance. He is a die-hard romantic that believes in "the one". An exciting new universe awaits him.
Ben, a NY native has just broken up with his boyfriend and thinks that very same universe can mind it's own business. Whilst visiting the post office to send a box of stuff back to his ex both he and Ben meet.
They don't exchange address, phone numbers, emails or even names but both want to meet the other again, so, the chase begins. How to connect ... and then after several do-overs can they even make this work.
What if it's us is written by two fantastic authors, heavyweights in the LGBT young adult fiction genre;
Becky Albertalli the amazing mind behind Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and sequel Leah on the Off Beat with the massive successful movie Love, Simon being released in 2018.
And Adam Silvera, author of They Both Die at the End, History is all you Left me, (which got a 10 out of 10 planets review from me) and More Happy than not.
I can imagine it's exciting but difficult to write a book with another person, but these two worked really well together, I presume that each author had a main character each and this works really well, giving a different feel and language to each one. Rather like the other huge success I read a couple of years ago Will Grayson, Will Grayson written by John Green & David Levithan (two other heavyweights in the genre).
The chase is really fun and gives an opportunity to delve into the lives of both characters, we meet their friends and families; their respective friends helping them to connect with each other and support their new found ... perhaps doomed ... relationship. I really liked Ben's story, rocked from a messy break-up with a good friend (never date a friend) their mutual friends are caught in the middle, to make matters worse Ben and his ex are attending summer school together, so they can't get away from each other. Worse still, Ben doesn't tell Arthur he sees his ex every day so this is hanging over his head all the time. Ben's story is very realistic and charts the stormy path one must travel getting over a break-up with a good friend; navigating and defining a new relationship with that friend and other mutual friends. It's a real mess in a real World.
The other main character Arthur is also interesting, working as a gopher in his mothers law firm for the summer so his future is very uncertain. He won't be staying in New York, so is there any point in even trying to meet someone and build a romance. Most would think it's doomed to fail but not Arthur, he believes in a magical universe of love and romance and the Broadway musical so he is going to create his own musical with himself, of course, being one of the main characters. Whilst a little cliched ... wow the gay boy loves musicals ... it does allow the reader to enter the mindset of Arthur and hope that maybe there will be a happy ending, just like in Broadway.
As they grow closer, have several do-over first dates after 3 nightmare attempts where everything went wrong both boys start questioning will it work, are they both in the same place, are they even compatible. Ben struggles with school work and Arthur sails through. Ben has no solid plans for university (he probably won't get in anyway) and Arthur has his Ivy League education planned. Ben hasn't got over his break-up and wants to make amends with his friends, Arthur is leaving New York after the summer (which they refuse to discuss) so will all these things making it impossible for Ben and Arthur to have a meaningful romance ... you'll have to read it to find out !!!
With great news that What if it's us will be made into a movie - Read more here - this is bound to be another huge success, although may not reach the heights of Love, Simon which grossed over €40 million. I really liked the book, it's well written by two artists who really understand the lives of young LGBT people and help us struggle with them through their fledgling romance. Neither is the book leaning on common tropes of homophobia, coming-out or a story of young LGBT people not being loved and supported by their family and friends and for this reason alone I love the book. Instead we have a normal teenage rom-com, the only difference being the two characters are gay, otherwise it's normal, well, because it is.
The only negative I can say about the book is the nagging suspicion as you are reading it that there will be a silly superfluous Disney-esque solution to the ending and this clouded my enjoyment of the story. Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil the ending, that's all I'm saying. it's still a good read and I'll give it an 8 out of 10 planets.
John The Captain Ryan.