Review: “If We Were Us” by K.L. Walther

Not the picture I wanted, but it still matches the cover.

Oh man to be young, in love, and dramatic as hell.

This story was an odd mix of quick page turning because I loved everything that was happening, and Jesus Christ I simply cannot stand these dumbass kids. 

But hey, maybe that’s just teenagers.

What’s this book about, you ask?

Sage and Charlie are simply meant to be together. At least, that’s what everyone at Generic Preparatory School seems to think. The truth is much more complicated; especially when a new boy comes to school and the ever-womanizing Charlie finds that his carefully crafted persona is kind of crumbling. And Sage, bless her, is hiding a secret-something with Charlie’s twin brother. It’s mayhem, I tell you. 

The pacing is wild in this book. You are thrown right into the complex social hierarchy and friendships in the first chapter and then time tends to move in spurts. 

Charlie was an interesting character. He is deeply closeted and has crafted this womanzing, devil-may-care persona at his school. He is young and terrified when it comes to his sexuality and doesn’t quite know what to do when his norm is challenged by the saintly patient and perfect Luke. You want to shake Charlie so many times, violently, so for both how he treats the female characters he dates, and especially for how he treats Luke, but you do end up feeling deeply for him. This is a kid with some internalized homophobia and it really does take everything he has to overcome it. His relationship with Luke seemed more authentic than Sage and Nicks’ for a variety of reasons, but most of all because we see Charlie and Luke having fun. They tease each other, they spend time with each other, both as friends and more. 

Sage and Nick, on the other hand, were just one toxic high school relationship that begged to be put down. Sage was a vapid airhead who treated Charlie terribly. Straight up. Nick was even worse. He was possessive and petulant, and spent more time whining about Sage and Charlie’s friendship, and then Charlie’s sexuality, and Sage Sage wah wah wah. He was Not It, as a love interest.

I will say that there was nothing particularly special about this book. We’ve seen storylines about closeted characters hating themselves and treating the people around them roughly, only to go through a metamorphosis. We’ve seen “hidden relationships” probably written better and with more depth. 

But, I’m a sucker for these storylines and Charlie And Luke’s plot sure scratched an itch. There is always something redeeming and hopeful about watching characters with such intense hatred of themselves be able to overcome it and find true happiness as themselves.

(But Sage and Nick were kind of awful sorry.)


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