Throughout June, GeekMom celebrates Pride Month with lots of LGBTQ content. Follow the Pride Month tag to find all the content in one space (including LGBTQ content from previous years) and keep checking back for more throughout the month. Today’s book review is If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich.
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Trigger Warnings: Homophobia/biphobia, drug abuse, toxic relationship (parent/child), alcoholism, addiction, emotional abuse, confinement, forced outing.
At one time or another, I imagine that most have us (at least those of us who identify as female) have gone through the phase of being obsessed with a boyband. It may have been Backstreet Boys or Boyzone, perhaps Duran Duran or the Bay City Rollers (or even The Beatles). Younger readers might be experiencing it now with BTS, or recently with One Direction. Whoever it was—or is—we can all identify with watching a highly polished group of pretty faces singing and dancing on stage while hordes of screaming teenage fans watch on.
If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich is a YA romance told from the alternating perspectives of Ruben and Zach, two teenage members of the globally popular boyband Saturday along with their friends Jon and Angel. The band is managed and produced by Chorus, an agency obsessed with making the boys as popular (and profitable) as possible and so every element of their lives is controlled, from the clothes they wear to their haircuts, what they are allowed to discuss in interviews, and where they are allowed to go.
For Ruben, this has also meant hiding his sexuality. Chorus worries that letting him come out as gay will push away fans who will no longer be able to picture him as the “perfect boyfriend” as well as alienating conservative parents and even whole countries. However, the band is struggling under the pressure their fame has brought them as they embark upon their first tour of Europe. Angel is experimenting with dangerous substances, Jon is struggling to reconcile his Catholic faith with the leering bad boy image Chorus has foisted upon him, and so Ruben and Zach end up relying on one another more and more, causing their friendship to blossom into a romance.
Pushed to reveal their new relationship to Chorus, Ruben and Zach soon find themselves being pulled apart, no longer allowed to perform beside one another or even sit beside one another in interviews lest anyone catch a glimpse of the truth. Quickly, the boys realize that Chorus will never allow them to be themselves, but with everything threatening to fall apart, will they be able to stay together?
If This Gets Out was a fantastic yet frustrating book that I raced through in just a few days. Ruben and Zach were both great characters with unique voices who I was able to identify with almost instantly, and the rest of their band were also given well-rounded personalities so it was easy to recognize each of them and I never found myself getting mixed up about who was who. While they were both in the same situation, Ruben and Zach’s identities gave them both a different perspective. Ruben has known he is gay for years and is frustrated at being constantly silenced and forced to keep his true self hidden. Zach, on the other hand, has only just realized he might be bisexual and feels pressured into revealing such personal details to his bandmates and management too quickly. These conflicting viewpoints keep the tension building throughout the book as the cracks begin to deepen within the band.
I also very much appreciated the ending. While the key event of the finale is obvious almost right from the start, I loved that the book didn’t end on it. Instead, there are repercussions to be dealt with: financial, legal, social, and personal. I suppose this could be seen as discouraging, but I felt it came across as realistic without negating the positive side of what happened.
GeekMom received a copy of this title for review purposes.