Book Review – ‘What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

The type of diverse novel I’ve been longing to read. No hate. Just meetcute.

What If It's Us Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 437

From Goodreads:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

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This was such an adorable story. Arthur and Ben are deliciously, awkwardly cute. A realistic things-don’t-always-go-right sort of thing.

What if it’s us’ is everything I expected it to be. Well written characters, a meet cute oozing innocence, awkwardness and angst. I may have rated it higher, but in comparison to ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda’ this didn’t hit me as hard… or have as much comedy. So it just missed out on a perfect score. But that is not to say that is any less of a captivating read.

Four hundred pages and still ‘What if it’s us’ flew by. I was always eager to see where the next chapter would take me. The alternating perspectives between Arthur and Ben lead off on two different storylines that happened to intertwine more and more as the novel progressed without rehashing information as we head-jumped into each narrative. I will say that the writing style did not differ too greatly between each perspective – if it weren’t for chapter titles and references I would have difficulty discerning whose voice was whose. I’d love to have seen some idiosyncrasies, habits, common word usage and tone separate the two perspectives a little more.

What If It's Us Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Arthur, the shorter college-bound nerd discovering his first love made me smile with his uncertainty in everything but love. His values in family and friendship. I think this is the first story where there is no bitchiness or bullying, so a surprisingly fun rom-com.

It felt like Ben had the biggest journey in this contemporary; discovering things about himself through introspection, friends, and of course, Arthur. He felt more like the stoic introvert that finally comes out of his shell.

It’s all about coming of age…

All of the secondary characters had their own stuff going on too: getting together, breaking up, fighting, and supporting each other. I really loved this aspect of ‘What if it’s us’ and really fleshed out the narrative.

It ends on the same note of the title as a question – like a true contemporary. One of hope that left me satisfied and hopeful myself.

The pacing is fairly steady. It’s not a fast read, but definitely does not feel like its dragging. The perfect timing for this type of genre.

Definitely recommend for lovers of stories of diversity, light romances, and New York City.

Overall feeling: A deliciously snuggy story

What If It's Us Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

What If It's Us Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Break-ups – Real vs. Fictional Boyfriends

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

How do the ex’s stack up to some of the fictional ex’s….

I haven’t had a lot of relationships in my life, but those I have experienced, fall into three categories when it comes to describing their end…

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleWhen the guy somehow, magically disappears from the face of the earth. He’ll stand you up, refuse to call, text, or email for weeks with no explanation. One moment you’re happy and thinking of what to do on your next adventure, and the next…
*crickets!*

Then you’ll get a visit or phone call after you’ve been worried he’s been abducted by aliens, or died in a car crash. And he just says that he’s met someone else, or got back with his old girlfriend… wtf? There are never any warning signs. Just a disappearing act and a lame goodbye.

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle

This guy will also give you no warning of your impending break up. In fact, one night he’ll take you out on an amazing date. Great restaurant and food, visit your favourite hang-out, shower you with compliments. And at the end of the night when you think he is the most wonderful boyfriend ever he says he want to break up. Then proceeds to give you a long list of everything he thinks is wrong with you.

Can. Feel. Anger. Rising.

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 07 by Casey Carlisle

In short, it’s the guy who dumps you over text. Then immediately blocks all forms of communication (and social media) afterwards. Again. Like a slap in the face with some smelly week-old cold fish.

All done. Period.

The one thing in common all these guys have is that they never spoke about being unhappy in the relationship. They made up their minds to end it before speaking (or texting) the words. They didn’t want to work things out, or start a dialogue. Just bam. Sorry babe it’s over.

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Maybe it says that I’ve only dated guys who are afraid to talk to me? Immature guys; guys who don’t want a partner to laugh, love, and work through the hard times with – but are also some imaginary picture-perfect woman that swoons and agrees with everything they say (does that sound bitter?)

Some of the breakups in books have followed the same pattern as above, especially in YA. But at least you get some answers and closure in a novel. Real life – so sad, go suck an egg.

Mostly, though the fictional break ups are tension-filled, messy and executed in dramatic flair, I don’t think I’d ever want to experience anything like that in real life. I’d be ruined or comedown with PTSD. But at least the characters try. There’s a sharing of feelings, some misunderstandings, stubborn attitudes most of the time. And then at the end of it, the main character gets to walk away all the better for the experience to some bright glowing future…

Now I know why I read so much. The break ups are far more satisfying and there is always some other prospect on the horizon.

But most stories are about people getting together. Maybe one day I’ll experience a relationship that is worthy of a story, and I can finally say I’ve put all the ghosts, event planners, and lazy men behind me. In the meantime, I’ll continue to live precariously through my fictions boyfriends.

Happy (swoony) reading 😉

Break-ups Fictional v Real Boyfriends Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

From City Buildings to Quiet Bush

Swapping high heels for gum boots

From City Buildings to Quiet Bush Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

It’s weird how things play out – my mother passing away, getting made redundant, and a relationship ending. It has all led me to living in the Hinterland, overlooking the coast and following my passion: writing.

While I miss my mother terribly, at least one thing reminds me of her every day. I wear a piece of her jewellery daily to feel like she is still sharing this journey with me as I sit at the computer and wrestle with my conscious at the words appearing on my screen. It may sound strange, but with Mum gone, I’ve lost that little feeling of being safe forever, like when things got scary and bad, you could run home for a hug… now that it is no longer there it has changed my outlook – and my writing style. The material I turn out now has more of a contemporary feel. I’ve lost a touch of my Pollyanna-always-smiling positivity. And that’s not a bad thing. It has matured my writing.

The now ex-boyfriend… well that was a surprise ending. It nearly broke me in half. I was sure we were heading somewhere special, that I was doing everything he asked for – I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I miss holding his hand, feeling his hugs and the silly jokes he cracked. I never wanted to be anything less than perfect with him.

The feeling of being loved, of being something bigger than yourself gives you a safe space to write and spurns you on. And just like losing Mum, finding that space again has fallen on my shoulders. Now I find beauty in the little things: looking out the window at the birds, gazing at the mammoth scape of blue above, well you get the picture. Yes, I am sad the relationship is over, but the main thing that troubles me is that he never believed how truly gorgeous I thought he was, but I hope one day he knows just how awesome he is. I’m a big girl and can accept that all good things come to an end – and it’s usually to make room for even better things! J

Work I don’t miss so much. Maybe the great friends I met there, but being made redundant gave me the kick in the pants to write. And I’ve never been happier.

I had to think hard – do I get another job, or take this opportunity to follow my dreams? Well the dream won out (obviously). But it has an expiration date. I’ve given myself a year to accomplish the task of finishing a book and getting published. And now with two novels at the final editing stage I’m half way there… and it’s only April.

So with all this behind me, I’ve relocated from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast, keen for the months of writing in tropical surrounds. But what I didn’t count on was nature…

From City Buildings to Quiet Bush Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleIt’s dark by 6pm. I mean inky black nothingness. No street lights, no ambient glow from the city. You have to feel your way through shrub and icky crawly-bitey things back inside. The night sky is amazing though. You can easily see three times as many stars! If it weren’t for the mosquitoes I’d be out there staring in the mysterious yonder every night.

Day time brings a plethora or annoyances: spiders, snakes, toads, bees, wasps, or a mist/fog during rainy days dulling visibility to mere metres. When I let my furbabies out for a run, or to do their ‘business’ I’m on high alert with my ‘snake-rake’ (to either brandish at a game reptile or hook my pooches away from danger).

It’s not all avid alertness all the time. I get to relax as well and take in ducks by the natural spring and parrots, kookaburras, butterflies, green tree frogs, while sucking in clean mountain air. It blows out cobwebs and really leaves me feeling revitalized. Where in the city I needed to travel about to find somewhere new to stimulate my senses, here I simply step out my front door.

And that’s the best thing! Yes, I can no longer wear my high heels and pop down to the shops for a cappuccino; but instead I can drink from the cup of the wilderness for inspiration – and right now that’s all I need to start filling my screen with words.

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Waiting… and then all at once.

This seems to be the mantra for the end of 2014.

 Waiting and then all at once by Casey Carlisle

 

Here’s a little update, rather than my usual article or review:

 

I’ve been pushing to finish writing my latest novel, and after a few sputtering attempts (life kept getting in the way) I completed the final sprint wrapping up the last four chapters. (Cue the popping of champagne and throwing of streamers.)

 

So too has the moving house scenario played out in similar fashion, with many pauses in the process due to red tape, I was beginning to get despondent, that I would never get to unpack my office and jump back into writing full force. But the last fortnight turned everything on its head. Thankfully. Now life is moving at lightning speed.

 

It’s like the Universe feeds on this frantic energy – so many other aspects of my life have started ramping up and wrapping up. Have I missed some grand cosmic event?

 

I haven’t been active with my reading or reviews either – books are packed up and my time has been spent arranging aspects of the move.

 

But the anxiety is sure to be over in the next week as I am about to embark on a massive road trip to a place I’ve now dubbed the ‘Writers Cottage’ – purposely set up for nothing but scribbling out pages of my next W.I.P.

 

I can’t wait – where Melbourne offered plenty of distraction, the Writers Cottage is isolated and boasts panoramic views of the Sunshine Coast and a natural spring sequestered amongst rainforest at the foot of the property. Initially I was only planning to take short trips for bursts of productivity before returning to the city, but now after a 2 year relationship has ended, it’s quite possible the move will be more permanent, as I now have more ties on the tropical coast than I do to the café strewn metropolis.

 

Between packing, I dabbled in creating some marketing images for my books: it helps keep me enthusiastic about projects and stay in the head space to jump straight back into writing in a few weeks. So I can’t wait for the new year to start to share my fumbling foray into Photoshop.

 

This time has also allowed me to plan out writing goals for 2015… it can’t come soon enough. (Settle down girl!)

 

To all my fellow writing enthusiasts – may the words flow forever freely for 2015.

 

What are your writing goals? What environment do you write best in?

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.