Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.
On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?
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A famous newly-found boy band. Four young members discovering stardom. Two teens taking the spotlight. With the rising love from their fans and an international European tour announced, these band members can be everything except their absolute true self. Published by Wednesday Books in December 2021!
If This Gets Out is a young adult, queer contemporary romance between two members of a boy band.
Ruben, Spanish-American obsessed with musical theatre, must fit the image of a boy next door; Zach, a devoted son to his single mother, must be a leather-clad rebellious bad boy; Angel, Vietnamese-American not shy of being the wildest one, must take up the role of a sweet virgin; and Jon, biracial (Black-white) son of the band’s manager, must separate his father from his boss. What unfolds as part of every management’s ambition to paint a picture of their band instead of capturing it with all honesty, is heart wrenching. Especially when a strangled mental health is so evidently the result of the industry’s problematic chase for reputation, fame, and perfection.
This is faithfully portrayed—being a celebrity in the music industry is not glamorous or fun. Keeping up a façade while being a small, always replaceable and rarely empathetically viewed, part of the humongous pop-culture factory is difficult and the story manages to consistently bring across that message. But the romance certainly takes a center stage. It unfolds with an undertone of finding a voice that aligns with their identity, and slides on tropes of best friends-to-lovers and a secret relationship.
Zach’s internal monologue as he breaks the heteronormative conviction he has held on to for years; from his adorable admiration for a man’s looks to the analysis he runs on the little crushes he has had in the past on other men, he’s finding himself again. Ruben has always known his queer side but that must be kept under the wraps for the band’s image. What starts with Zach realizing his feelings for Ruben, his closest friend ever since the band was formed, aren’t strictly platonic is both soft and exciting to witness.
The complex characters showcase an incredibly sweet love story packed with formulaic but entertaining tropes that emotionally invest you. As the European tour begins, the tensions within the band builds and the members feel tired with their pretenses. Through alternating voices, written excellently and distinctively by the author duo, this contemporary delivers on the importance of a queer journey unraveling on one’s own terms instead of being driven by industries or audiences, destigmatizing of mental health struggles, and dismantling the fear of ‘if this gets out’ in fan-driven narratives.
my rating ↣ ★★★★☆
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