James's Reviews > What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli
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really liked it
bookshelves: 1-fiction, 2-fic-young-adult, 9-read-2019-02-february

With all the hype in the last few years about these authors, I knew I needed to read one of each of their books. I requested a few from the library and got placed in the queue to wait my turn. This was the first novel that showed up, so I get to sample them both at the same time. It was a fantastic read, and I ended up just shy of 4.5 stars hence rounding down to 4 on the ratings charts. Let's dive into my thoughts...

While the first few chapters drew me in on many levels, I squirmed a lot over the dialog and viability of the scenarios. I live in New York City. I've been to this post office many times. I couldn't visualize it based on how things were laid out. It definitely could happen; however, between the dialog of the characters and this meet-cute scenario, I thought they were mid-20s at first. On the flip side, I'm not in my 20s now, so it's possible I'm a tad removed from how things currently work in the dating world! What this book ultimately made me do / think after finishing 90% of it was... how in the world do people date in today's times? These two guys are ~17 in NYC riding subways on their own and going all over the place. In my day (wow, that makes me sound way older than I am) I was a scared little boy who wouldn't have (a) been allowed to nor (b) felt comfortable doing it. Perhaps that's more of a comment on me and not the book, but I couldn't imagine having a conversation with my parents about 'dick-picks' from people online. However, in 2018, it's probably warranted with so much technology and social media in our hands.

My only other concern with the book was the ending. If you prefer not to know, skip this paragraph. If you are okay with small spoilers, keep reading. So... I'm reading along wondering if the book will be a happily-ever-after story or a heart-crushing painful one. I'm definitely more like Arthur minus the Jewish background and desire to attend Yale. I have a free spirit like Ben but I would never show up late nor be friends with an ex the way he was. At 95% in, the book ends with Arthur going back to Georgia for his senior year (was in NYC with parents just for a summer). We don't know how it ends... but in the epilogue, we do. They go off to college / career separately and have different lives that still intersect. I don't want to give it all away, but it made me stop and think... isn't letting go of love hard? I've had two prior long-term relationships (5+ years each) end before I met my current partner. Going thru that at 17 (a precocious 17) must be worse.

Yikes, this is a review about a book. Why am I being so personal? I suppose it means the writing, characters, and story were that strong... I connected on many levels. To see how two young guys in high school learn how to date, how not to get mauled on a subway by a bigot, to deal with parents meeting one another, to be out at such a young age... it's all a challenging and eye-opening experience. I see it with younger friends and family, but to read about it with two kids you just want to hug is a different sort of emotional heart-string tug. I admit I teared up in the end, and Ben's grand gesture was adorable.

So... I'll definitely read more from both authors. I recommend this book. Some will find it trite / overdone / simple... but honestly, they just like to complain and have no heart (no offense intended, I respect our differences)... I always look for the wonderful sentiments in a book and enjoy when my boundaries are pushed to think about things differently. Kudos for making it happen here.
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Reading Progress

August 31, 2018 – Shelved
August 31, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
August 31, 2018 – Shelved as: 1-fiction
February 5, 2019 – Started Reading
February 5, 2019 – Shelved as: 2-fic-young-adult
February 9, 2019 –
page 100
22.32% "Cute and fun. Witty dialog. Does anyone really talk like that?"
February 9, 2019 – Shelved as: 9-read-2019-02-february
February 9, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Fran (new)

Fran James...looking forward to your thoughts.

James Fran wrote: "James...looking forward to your thoughts." It's such a mix! I live in NYC and am similar to one of them, so I feel a kinship, but I'm also twenty years older now. I remember being 17 in NYC tho!

Dennis Balagtas me too... literally my last book of 2018... happy more reading James!!!

James Dennis wrote: "me too... literally my last book of 2018... happy more reading James!!!" Awesome, I'll have to check out your review once I finish mine.

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