Book Review: What If It’s Us and Here’s to Us


Katie Wilson

DISCLAIMER: This review includes spoilers to the novels What If It’s Us and Here’s to Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli.

The fictional coming-of-age novel by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli, What If It’s Us now has a sequel. By reading Here’s to Us, you will find out the fate of Ben and Arthur, their relationship, or the lack thereof.

I first read What If It’s Us in July of 2021. Soon after, I heard there was an upcoming sequel being release in December 2021. I waited five months for this novel to come out, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. I was prepared for a good read, but I got handed an exceptional one instead.

The word choice, the writing style, and the authenticity of the novel as a whole was amazing. What I can say without spoiling anything is that this was a five-star read, and I would recommend it to anyone.

To say the least, this novel took me on a messy emotional rollercoaster. There were lots of ups that balanced out the many downs, but there were also moments of confusion that made me want to shut the book and ponder about what I had just read. Personally, I love when I have to think about the words on the paper to understand them, instead of knowing as soon as they’re read.

What I love a lot about the second novel in particular is the growth Ben and Arthur have as humans. Ben, is a white-passing Puerto Rican who cannot fluently speak Spanish; he’s struggling with his identity and that is brought up more in the second novel astronomically than in the first. Arthur’s character gets many more references in the context of him being Jewish nowadays. It is valuable to Jews worldwide to have representation, as the Jewish community does not get much-needed representation.

Those who intend to read the first novel, do not continue reading as there are major spoilers ahead. When we last see Ben and Arthur in What If It’s Us, they say “goodbye” as Arthur leaves New York, leaving his and Ben’s relationship behind. The highly anticipated sequel takes place two years after What If It’s Us. Ben and Arthur do not communicating whatsoever– they don’t even like each other’s Instagram post. Ben, the New York native, has a part-time job at his father’s bodega in the city with his not-boyfriend, Mario, right by his side the entire time. Arthur, back in the city for a Broadway internship, is spending the summer away from his boyfriend, Mikey. So, Ben’s happy with Mario,  and Arthur is happy with Mikey–right?

Our main characters, Ben and Arthur, are very different people; Ben, the outgoing New Yorker, and Arthur, the shy Broadway nerd from Georgia. They’re complete opposites, but I think that’s why I like their characters so much. They have one major similarity: they both act like they’re fine, but on the inside, they know their world is falling apart. Ben is struggling with college and Arthur with ADHD.

The central conflict in these novels is that nobody is perfect, even if they look like they are. This is extremely important because the intended audience of this novel is teenagers. Being a teenager, to begin with, is exhausting, but adding on schoolwork, pressure, and social media make it even worse. I believe Albertalli and Silvera wanted these teens to know that they’re not alone in this world.

The iconic Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera duo will always hold a special place in my heart. Albertalli is widely known for their novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, while Silvera is known for They Both Die at The End. It was an amazing idea for them to co-write these novels together. They both bring a different style of writing to the table that makes the book what it is.

Albertalli and Silvera are Publisher’s Weekly Flying Starts, Lambda Literary Award nominees, and #1 New York Times bestsellers. Both authors have solo NYT Bestsellers, and What If It’s Us is a NYT, USA Today, and Indie Bestseller. What If It’s Us was also nominated for a Goodreads choice award–however, it did not end up winning. A Booklist starred review states, “[This novel is] achingly romantic. Here’s to Us transitions seamlessly from its predecessor yet stands strongly on its own.”

Here’s to Us tells a story of two young adults discovering themselves, their weird and charming sides. Hopefully, for good, the story of Ben and Arthur lies in the author’s hands.