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“What’s going to happen when he goes home?” Pa asks. Ben shrugs. This question sucks. “I’m just getting to know him while he’s here.” –What If It’s Us 

What If It’s Us

by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

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When Arthur found out he was going to spend the summer in New York doing an internship at a branch of his mom’s law firm, he was thrilled. As a theatre fanatic, he was excited at the prospect of living right at the heart of where everything happens. But when he gets there, he realizes that life in New York is no Broadway show. He misses his friends back home, Jessie and Ethan, and there are no other high schoolers at the firm to hang out with. The two people closest in age to him, Juliet and Namrata, are in college and treat him like a little brother, not a friend. And on top of it all, his parents have been bickering nonstop since they landed, and their New York apartment is too small for Arthur to get away from it. 

Ben’s summer isn’t going much better. During the school year, he spent so much time with his then-boyfriend, Hudson, that his grades suffered. Now, to graduate on time, Ben has to spend his break in summer school. To add insult to injury, he and Hudson broke up shortly before the end of the school year after Hudson cheated on him, causing a rift in their friend group as their mutual friends took different sides. Ben still has his best friend, Dylan, but his other friend Harriet only hangs out with Hudson now. Summer school is bad enough, but his broken friendships are really starting to take a toll on him. 

When Ben and Arthur first meet in the post office, they hit it off right away, but forget to exchange names or contact information. When they find each other again, they call it New York City magic, a sign from the universe that they should be together. After a few rocky starts, they begin to date. But Arthur has never been in a relationship before, and Ben has way too much on his plate. And, of course, there’s the fact that at the end of the summer, Arthur will have to leave New York. Can they make their relationship work despite all of these challenges, or are they simply not meant to be together? 

What If It’s Us is a humorous, cute, and cozy teen rom-com that’s easy and fun to read. It is full of references, particularly to contemporary Broadway musicals and Harry Potter, for fans to enjoy; however, knowledge of these references isn’t necessary to enjoy the book as a whole. All of the characters, particularly Arthur and Ben, are well-developed and fleshed-out, making them easy to relate to and sympathize with. The chapters alternate between both Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives, giving readers a glimpse into both characters’ thoughts. Although they both make mistakes and have problems, they work through them together, making them an easy couple for readers to root for. 

Fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera will love their collaboration on this book. The novel flows well, without major style shifts, something that is difficult to achieve in a collaborative project. Each of their distinctive styles shines through while still working with the other, not overpowering it. Overall, What If It’s Us is an adorable teen rom-com, perfect for readers who want a simple story about the power of love. Its main lesson is to live in the moment; even if love and friendship may not last forever, they can still be beautiful and are worth pursuing. Fans of What If It’s Us should also read They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera and Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli. 

Sexual Content 

  • When Ben goes to his best friend Dylan’s house, Ben knocks on Dylan’s bedroom door before going in because a few months ago “[Ben] walked in and he was really going at it with himself. ‘Hand out of your pants?’ [Ben] ask[s]. ‘Unfortunately,’ Dylan responds from the other side.” 
  • On Ben and Arthur’s first date, Ben mentions, “My best friend, Dylan, once sent me a link to some Harry Potter porn. You can never read those books the same after you’ve seen Hermione, Harry, and Ron in a potions lab shouting Erectus Penis.” 
  • Ben and Arthur have their first kiss. Arthur’s “eyes are closed, and [Ben’s] lips move against mine, and WOW, I don’t know what the rules are around the appropriateness of getting a boner in this sort of moment, but– oh. I should kiss him back.” 
  • When Arthur brings Ben to his apartment to meet his parents, Arthur worries about how he should introduce Ben. “If he’s not my boyfriend, what do I call him? My friend? My gentleman caller? The guy with whom I think about having sex with 99 percent of my waking hours? And yes, I mean that both ways. I spend 99 percent of my waking hours thinking about how I’d like to spend 99 percent of my waking hours having sex with Ben.” 
  • During a dinner with Ben’s parents, Ben and Arthur go to Ben’s bedroom. They sit on top of Ben’s bed together (the door is open) and Ben thinks about sex. “I sit beside him and think about sex because that’s what happens when your beautiful boyfriend is in bed with you. If we make a move to have sex while he’s still in New York, it’s going to be his first time. That’s wild pressure. I want to prove myself to him so that no matter what happens between us, he won’t ever look back at me and regret our choice.” 
  • When Ben and Arthur are home alone, they mess around in Ben’s room. “And for a moment, we just stay like that– chest to chest, cheek to cheek. And then, slowly, [Ben’s] fingers trail closer to my boxers, slipping under their waistband. ‘This still okay?’ Holy shit. I laugh breathlessly. ‘Yup.’ So this is actually happening. It’s happening. It’s happening, and my whole body knows it. His hand slides down another inch. I don’t think I’ll ever not be hard again. His eyes never leave mine. He looks nervous. And he holds me like I’m breakable.” They do not end up having sex. 
  • Ben and Arthur kiss in Arthur’s apartment when they are home alone. “I just love this. Every part of it. The hitch in [Ben’s] breath and his slightly swollen lips and knowing I’m the one who made both of those things happen. I love the way the spaces between our bodies vanish, like we can’t be close enough. I love the feeling of my hands in his hair. I love the softness of the nape of his neck. And most of all, I love it when our lips are touching and our mouths slide open and my heart’s a mile a minute, and breath becomes something we share.” 
  • Ben and Arthur have sex for the first time in Arthur’s room. Ben describes, “We get going and we go slow . . . I kiss him and I call him beautiful and I tell him I love him and we go on past that finish line. We laugh and we catch our breaths.” 
  • When Arthur helps Ben study for his chemistry exam on Arthur’s last night in New York, Ben says, “I can’t believe we’re spending your last night studying for my fucking exam.” Then, Adam details the following exchange: “‘I love studying with you for your fucking exam.’ ‘I’d rather forget the exam part and go straight to–’ I clap my hand over his mouth. ‘Don’t say ‘fucking.’ Don’t you dare.’” 
  • Arthur comes up with the following mnemonic device for remembering the first nine elements on the periodic table: “Happy Hudson loves boners but can never overcome flaccidity.” 


  • None 

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • Ben, Arthur, and their friends go to a karaoke night, and someone asks one of their friends to “go use your beard to get us some alcohol.” This doesn’t work, and the four drink Coke instead. 


  • “Fuck” is used often as an intensifier, and once as a synonym for “have sex with.” 
  • “Shit” is sometimes used as an exclamation. 


  • None 

Spiritual Content 

  • Ben and his parents say grace before dinner. “This evening Ma is thanking God for the food on the table, for my abuelita who fell getting out of the car and my aunt who’s taking care of her, for Pa’s modest pay raise kicking in at Duane Reade, and for everyone’s well-being.” 
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“What’s going to happen when he goes home?” Pa asks. Ben shrugs. This question sucks. “I’m just getting to know him while he’s here.” –What If It’s Us 

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