If This Gets Out, co-written by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich, is a beautiful and insightful queer YA romance about two members of a boy band who fall in love. Eighteen year olds Zach and Ruben make up half of Saturday, an internationally famous boy band that also includes Jon – a classic type A – and Angel – a rascal and all-round chaos agent. The story begins as the four of them are wrapping up a tour in their home of the US and are about to embark on a months-long tour of Europe. Not long into their European leg, Zach and Ruben, who have always been best friends, find themselves falling for each other. Ruben is gay, but has been pressured by their management team, Chorus Management, to remain closeted. Zach, Jon and Angel, and their closer team, know that he’s gay, but efforts are made by their management and publicity teams to present Ruben as straight, in keeping with what is believed to be expected of members of a boy band. Zach slowly realises that he is bisexual, and that he’s in love with Ruben, and it’s not long before Chorus is pressuring them to keep their relationship a secret, going to lengths to keep them apart and presenting publicly as straight, single young men.

Told in chapters alternating between Zach and Ruben’s points of view, the nuance of their characters – their struggles, joys, and losses – are brilliantly written, and it’s easy to be on both their sides from page one.

Gonzales and Dietrich do a brilliant job of weaving this story between the lines of fantasy and reality. Two members of a famous teen band falling for each other sounds like something from a modern fairy tale, but the authors never gloss over the realities of queer relationships, of coming to terms with one’s sexuality, then having to make decisions about who you tell and when. They also don’t gloss over the realities of international stardom, detailing the gruelling schedule the boys keep while on tour, the lack of personal freedoms that come with being part of a mass-media machine, and the enormous pressure to conform to what Chorus expects of them. Gonzales and Dietrich use this setting to examine issues facing young queer people, with the stakes ramped up to eleven because of the situation Zach and Ruben are in.

The authors also do a brilliant job of keeping the relationships real, emphasizing that not everyone is completely good or bad, that misunderstandings happen and clear communication and boundaries are paramount, and that the unconditional love and support from those closest to you makes the biggest difference. This is true not only of romantic partners and family members, but also of fandoms, who are presented from the other side of the stage/screen in this story, and who, ultimately, are a huge factor in the successful outcome of the band’s trials. The friendships between the four boys are also delightful – it’s refreshing and wonderful to read teen male characters who aren’t at all toxic, who support and love each other through highs and lows, growing as people and learning from their mistakes and experiences.

There are a lot of toxic tropes in queer stories of couples getting ‘caught’ with each other, of people being outed when they aren’t ready, and of couples facing miserable endings. I am very pleased to report, without wanting to give too much away, that this story has a happy ending, that the characters are not one-dimensional or trope-ridden, and that I happy cried more than once on this journey with Zach and Ruben, Angel and Jon.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves well-constructed YA, romance, or queer stories, or who just loves well-rounded characters coming into their own.

I was provided a free copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *