”Everyone looks so happy, and I hope this is the first of many documented memories this summer. And maybe the more I share my world with him, the more he’ll want to be part of mine and let me into his.
This is every relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.”
Oh boy did this book kill me! I swear Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli definitely don’t do things by halves. When I finished “What If It’s Us” in October 2019 I was so heartbroken and instantly demanded a “do-over” of Ben and Arthurs love story. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one because Becky and Adam obviously graced us with a sequel and to say I’m a happy camper doesn’t even get close to the truth. This ending! It was everything I wanted to read and more! It was legit the best do-over EVER and I cried and laughed and smiled through my tears and was a total mess by the end of this story, but it was worth it! So, so worth it! T_T
”People don’t warn you that heartbreak is a chronic condition. Maybe it quiets down a little over time, or you can muffle it with distance, but the ache never quite dials down to zero. It’s there lurking in the background, ready to flare back up the minute you let your guard down.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself here so let’s not start with the ending but with the beginning of “Here’s To Us” instead. 😉 At the beginning of the book we get Ben’s and Arthur’s POVs. Two years have passed and they aren’t together anymore and are both with other people instead. Ben is casually dating a guy named Mario but they don’t define as boyfriends (yet) and Arthur is in a relationship with Mikey and they’ve been together for quite a while. None of them is looking for love because they already have someone in their lives. So the universe obviously needs to mix things up a little bit and lands Arthur a job in a New York off-Broadway production. Arthur is once again spending another summer in the big apple and even though he and Ben lost contact for a little while, they start to write messages again and eventually meet.
Ben laughs. “I’m good. Holy shit. Arthur.”
And the next thing I know, he’s hugging me and I’m hugging him back, and it’s as familiar as breathing. The way he smells, the way the toes of our sneakers touch, the way I fit beneath his chin. Maybe these last two years were all a dream. Maybe I’ve been here in Ben’s arms this whole time. Maybe I never left.
Well, it doesn’t take a lot for them to start to hang out together again. They meet for double dates, get to know each other’s love-interests and go for activities with their friends. But despite the fact they are both in love with other people, Ben and Arthur still can’t seem to be able to let go of each other and feel more than they probably should.
”I guess you changed your mind about long-distance relationships, huh?”
That sentence hurt so much! ARGH! It was a stab in the heart because one of the main reasons why Ben and Arthur’s relationship didn’t work out was because they would have had to do long-distance. Something Ben thought he wouldn’t be able to pull off and that ultimately led to them having different lives. T_T Honestly I felt so much for Arthur in this book because uff, his feelings were all over the place and he seemed to be so lost sometimes. Yet at the same time, I also felt sorry for Ben because he wasn’t happy with his life and how things turned out. He decided that college wasn’t for him but had no idea what he actually wanted to do and where his life would go. He felt at least as lost as Arthur did and I could understand his wish to change something. The conversation he had with his dad is one I’ve had as well and I know how tough it can be to own your feelings and to stand by them. You know you’re lucky to have the life you do, but that doesn’t mean you’re happy with it and that you can’t want more out of it. It’s only human to want to be happy and to do something that gives you fulfilment.
”I’m sorry you feel so stuck here, but many people would love to be in your position.”
I’m tired of not being able to own my feelings because someone else has it worse. I know I’m lucky to have a roof over my head and parents who love me and food on the table. I know, I know, I know. I can also want more for myself.
And as if that wouldn’t already be enough, there’s also the fact that they are both drawn to each other but are more (Arthur) or less (Ben) in a relationship with someone else. I swear to read this was so confusing because Mario as well as Mikey are both decent and nice people. I really liked them both and I honestly could see them having a future with Ben and Arthur. The problem is, sometimes you love people but it just isn’t enough and they are not the right choice for you even though it seems to be like they are. Does this make any sense? *lol* I’m speaking from experience here so I can say, just because someone seems to be perfect for you, that doesn’t mean they actually are. 😉 So yeah, I liked Mario and Mikey and I didn’t want them to get their hearts broken even though I wanted Arthur and Ben to get together as well. Talk about conflicting emotions. I was on the fence about how this story should be resolved. *lol*
”They tell me all about their plans, but I get distracted when Arthur and Mikey swap cone and cup, wordlessly, like they’ve done this a thousand times. And when Mikey’s phone buzzes on the table, Arthur silences it for him. I would’ve thought that was passive-aggressive, but Mikey thanks Arthur. Maybe Mikey likes being present, and Arthur knows that about his boyfriend.”
You might say not only Ben and Arthur are struggling, you as a reader are struggling as well, because there’s no way you won’t feel torn about all the relationships in here. Kudos to Adam and Becky for making this realistic once again. The fact that this was so relatable and lifelike reminded me of the first book and I remember loving it so much for it. It’s refreshing to see real obstacles and problems in YA literature every once in a while and what made “What If It’s Us” and “Here’s To Us” so special and interesting for me was exactly that. The problems Ben and Arthur have to face are normal troubles a lot of teens have to get through and I guess in some way this also makes it some sort of coming-of-age story. At least for me it does.
”Delicate but fierce,” says Dylan, “with the face of an angel.”
“No, his face is the worst thing to happen to saber-toothed tigers as a species, including extinction. I was going to say he’s too jammed in there. He’s not winnable.”
And speaking of relatable: Can we acknowledge the fact and truth that Dylan is one of the best side-characters and besties in a book ever?! I just love this man and the way he thinks and I had to laugh every single time he was on page! That saber-toothed tiger conversation between Dylan and Arthur will live in my head rent-free for eternity. *lol* Honestly, Ben’s friendship with Dylan is such a wholesome relationship and it’s obvious they both love and value each other more than they can convey with words. I’m really glad Dylan found Samantha because I think no one else (aside of Ben, of course) would be able to understand him the way she does. =) Those two are a match made in heaven. XD
”Ben Alejo, I love you. I’d never do this without you. I mean, I had to do it without you, but I couldn’t do it without you.” Dylan grabs my hand. “You have been there during all the major steps.”
So yeah, a lot of things happen in this book and emotions are running high, especially near the ending. It’s been quite the roller coaster for me because I love all the characters so much, the old and the new, and I had no idea how to solve this mess! Haha! Thankfully, Adam and Becky took over that part and all I had to do was to read how they decided to resolve it. I was pretty happy with the outcome but I won’t say anything about how this ends because you just gotta read it yourself. No spoilers from me – as always. ;-P
”It’s your life to live, Alejo,” Mario says, resting his hands on my shoulders. “Just make sure you’re living it for yourself and not anyone else.”
All told, I absolutely loved to read this sequel. I always wanted a second book but I had no idea how much I actually NEEDED it. To be back in NYC, to see Ben and Arthur together again, to find out what they’ve been up to, to see how much they grew – It felt like coming home after a very long time. Everything is still the same, yet somehow everything seems to have changed as well. I needed to be back in this world as much as I needed to find closure and in the end, I got both. I’m content, I’m happy and after almost 4 years it feels like my mind can finally relax. I’m once again able to breathe. So yes, for me this was the perfect ending. Thank you Becky and Adam, you did well. =)
And because I just need to write those amazing quotes in my review, because I can’t live with not quoting them here I’ll just place them in a spoiler tag:
spoilers:”I’m just – I’m so bad at this. How am I so bad at this? You know what I did last night? I watched every love confession scene I could find, and every single one of them reminded me of you. All of them. Notting Hill. Crazy Rich Asians. Ten Things I Hate About You – Ben, I cried watching the end of the Kissing Booth sequel, because for me, it’s always you. You’re the point of every story.” A tear rolls down Ben’s cheek, and he swipes it away with his fingers. “And I want to tell you it’s okay that you’re leaving and that I’ll get over you, I’m sure it is, and I’m sure I will. But right now?” I shut my eyes for a moment. “I don’t even know what getting over you looks like. I can’t even imagine it, and – God, I shouldn’t be telling you this. It’s not fair to you.” I wipe my eyes. “I know. I know it’s not.” ”I’m supposed to do my whole life over, twenty-five hundred miles from everything and everyone. Except you – Arthur, you’re like this stowaway in my head. I don’t know how to not bring you with me. Every time I think something weird, I’m like, Arthur would get this. Do you realize that every time, every single time anyone’s smiled at me for the past two years, I’ve compared it to your smile? For two years. As if anyone else could win that game.” He presses a hand to his forehead. “And the thing about being a writer is that it’s not only about telling stories to other people, right? It’s also about the stories I tell myself. Anything and everything I can say that’ll make me believe I’m happy. But I’m done rewriting how I feel because I’m scared of getting hurt again. All that’s going to do is break my heart later when I don’t get my perfect ending. And the perfect ending to my story is with you.” “You’re –“ I press my fist to my mouth. “I’m going to cry.” “You’re already crying. Literally right now.” He lets out a choked laugh, grabbing my hands to pull me closer. And now excuse me while I cry! T_T They are so adorable, I can’t even.