What if it's us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Simon and Schuster, 2018. ISBN 9781471176395
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. This novel explores the awkwardness of teenage love, friendship and fate, in a modern story written from two perspectives. Arthur is in New York on an internship for the summer, hoping to gain experience for his application to Yale. Ben lives in New York with his lower-middle class family, stuck in summer school thanks to his now ex-boyfriend. Arthur is completely captivated by the magic of the Big Apple. For Ben, it's his every day. Two entirely different worlds, and yet the universe makes them collide. Right from the first time they meet, you're rooting for the two boys as you feel their clumsy chemistry emanating from the page. After the first meeting is interrupted, it takes a while for them to reconnect in a city of 8 million people, and it's certainly not smooth sailing from there. It takes them three attempts to get a first date right, as they struggle with Arthur's tendency to care too much and Ben's inability to show how much he really cares. This, along with movements in both their friendship groups cause increasing tension to build up, dampened only by the romance they share which keeps them hanging on. Through the highs and lows of their relationship, they learn that love is not about doing things perfectly and getting it right the first time, it's about working through things together to work out what's right for them.
The story is written in a unique way by two authors: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, both writing from one of the perspectives of the two main characters. Although the voice of each character is not specified, those who have read the authors' previous works may be able to distinguish their particular styles. Aside from this, there are multiple references to musicals that Broadway fans will appreciate, along with other references that teenagers can relate to.
This novel perfectly displays the awkwardness and challenges that come with being an openly gay teenager, or anyone in a young relationship in today's society.
Sam Rugless (Student)