Arthur and Ben have the cutest of the meet-cutes, at the post office. Arthur is running a coffee errand at his summer internship and Ben is trying unsuccessfully to mail his ex-boyfriend’s stuff back to him. They chat a bit, there’s a spark, and then they’re separated. Arthur, ever the optimist, is determined to find Ben again – a small-town boy in the big city – and succeeds. (How he succeeds is part of the charm of the story, so I won’t ruin it for you.) But the story doesn’t end there. They have a series of awkward do-over dates as they fumble over each other. Arthur’s fumbling is to be expected; he’s new to dating, but Ben isn’t. Their not-clicking gave me serious pause about whether they had long-term potential, but sometimes life is like that. There’s a scene where the boyfriends and their parents have dinner together and it’s about the cutest thing.
There are some interesting aspects to this story. It’s written in alternating chapters from Ben and Arthur’s perspectives, and because it’s written by two authors, they each took a main character and then wrote the best friends of the other character. Sometimes it was hard to tell the narrators apart, but for the most part I liked the best friends. Arthur’s best friends spend most of the story trying to tell him something fairly obvious but Arthur’s too wrapped up in his own problems to figure it out. Ben’s best friends include his ex, and another couple who recently broke up, most of whom he’s in summer school with. His main best friend is a straight guy who’s SO okay with Ben being gay that it reminded me of Openly Straight.
I heard Silvera and Albertalli talk at the Boston Book Festival about this book as I was just diving in; they clearly are besties who work well together, and it was delightful to see their affection for each other. Silvera addressed the autobiographical aspects of Ben’s story (both are Puerto Rican but often “pass” as white), and they talked about how they just wanted to write a sweet, hopeful love story. There’s one scene on the subway with a homophobic man who gets in their faces and really shakes Arthur up, which might be upsetting to some readers, but overall I think the story is just as idyllic as the authors intended.