Sunday, December 2, 2018

I'm glad I had insulin on hand.

So, I had ran across Beck Albertalli and Adam Silvera's What If It's Us at the bookstore, and decided to find it at the library, since even if I'm not in the target audience, I find it behooves me to keep current on Young Adult books that center on gay characters. Which is good, since, other than two characters who came out towards the end of Christopher Pike novels, they pretty much didn't exist when I was in the age range. Now when we get YA (and adult) horror novels with openly gay characters, we'll know we have arrived.

We open with two narrators telling us about a chance encounter at a post office between Midtown and Uptown Manhattan. We start with Arthur, a 16 year old musical obsessed Jewish kid who grew up in Milton, Georgia. Arthur is in New York for the summer, interning at his mother's law firm. Mom is working on a specific case, while dad is searching for work in Georgia from Manhattan. He meets a hunky guy with a box outside of a post office between Midtown and Uptown. A brief conversation ensues until a flash mob marriage proposal ends the conversation. Switch to Ben, a 16 year old Puerto Rican guy from Alphabet City who's trying to mail a break up box to his ex, Hudson.

Both walk away attracted to each other, but without exchanging information. Like names.

So we spend the first third of the novel with them trying to find each other. Which through a series of plot devices, they do eventually manage to find each other and arrange a first date. The second third concerns their series of first dates and the reactions of their friends to their relationship. Given that the friends helped them find each other, it's fairly positive, even though the friends have drama of their own. The last third deals with the consummation of their affair and the end of Arthur's summer in New York.

It's all very sweet and saccharine, what with even their parents loving the boyfriend and being very supportive of the children. And unlike Albertalli's Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, the ending is a bit less fairy tale and more realistic. Now mind you, my frame of reference is a lot different than that of the authors or their characters, so the near break up over Hamilton tickets seemed a bit silly to me, but upon further reflection, when I was that age and my boyfriend won the lottery for front row seats to see Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic then managed to lose them by being 15 minutes late to get them, I might have horribly overreacted as well.

As nice as it is to see fairly normal teens with supportive families fall in love, and as much as I can hope this is actually what's happening in the world, my own upbringing wouldn't let me fully share the fantasy as presented. I can hope that this is becoming truth, but I chalk this up as a stretched thin fantasy that remains rather charming despite the thinness of the reality attached.