Like the main characters: the story tries to connect, but fails.


Arthur is entranced by the magic of New York City. He is here for the summer as an intern at his mother's law firm ... but that doesn't mean he can't believe in all things romantic and dramatic. After all, why can't life in the city be like a Broadway musical? Ben, on the other hand, is living a less-than-magical life. He has just gotten through a breakup and is now sentenced to summer school, spending time with the other person involved in said break-up.

The boys meet by chance outside of the post office. They both think the universe is sending them a message, but is it that they should be together? or apart? In the end, it's up to them to decide whether or not they could have a chance at becoming something for real, before their time together in the city runs out.

Teen Student Volunteer (15):
What If It's Us? is a sweet and enjoyable, romantic adventure. It is diversity-friendly, as the main characters are Hispanic and Jewish, respectively, as well as members of the LGBTQA+ community. The beginning of the book leading up to them finding each other (after initially being separated) was very cute to read, and the way the novel handled the issue of losing one's virginity was realistic and non-explicit (keeping in mind the teenage audience). It's tone was lighthearted and playful throughout.

However, there were points as I was reading where I found myself counting the pages until it was over. In the first half of the book, I couldn't distinguish between Ben and Arthur, for they had no individual voice. The pop-culture references, while relatable quickly became overwhelming with the sheer amount of times they were used. Finally, there seemed to hardly be any chemistry between the main characters, and other than their on-again off-again romance spurred by petty arguments, there was no other engaging plot.

While it was pleasant to read at some points, if I had the choice to go back and choose to read the book again, I'm afraid I'd pass on it. The numerous pop-culture references quite honestly felt like they were being shoved down my throat, and other than the constantly unsteady relationship between the main characters due to petty arguments, there was no true engaging plot. The efforts of the authors are clearly shown, but there are better books.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

This is a diversity-friendly romantic adventure with characters who represent their own culture, as well as the LGBTQ+ community.

Content Awareness Factors:

The plot contains explicit sexual situations and characters use profanity. Delving into LGBTQA+ culture, there is a scene where the two characters face blatant homophobia and must stand up for themselves. They also exchange sexual humor from time to time, including exploring the loss of one character's virginity. It is portrayed in a realistic way (with consent) and doesn't explicitly describe any scenes that may make readers uncomfortable.

Type of Book:
This is a young adult novel about relationships.
Educational Themes:

This novel educates readers on LGBTQA+ culture, seeing as how the love story is between two teenage boys. It also includes racial diversity, teaching readers a little more in depth of both Hispanic and Jew culture and practices. Finally, it implies the loss of a character's virginity, handled in a way such as that no explicit scenes are shown, though the lessons of consent are still able to come through.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
15 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
15 and Up
Age of child:
Teen student volunteer, reviewer age: 15
Purchase Recommendation:
Skip. The plot doesn't engage the reader and the cultural references get overwhelming in a hurry.

Title What If It's Us?
Author Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera
Publisher HarperTeen, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2018
ISBN 9780062795250
Material Hard Cover
Cost $18.99
Genres Humor, Social Issues, Romance
Reminder: Cover images, and links are affiliate links. The Reading Tub can earn income via purchases made via these links. 100% of any income goes directly to our literacy mission.

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