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?
***Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my honest assessment and reaction to the book.***
Do you like boy bands, MM romance, and stories about fighting the system? Then you will probably love If This Gets Out as much as I did. I flew through this read and did not want to put it down. The pacing was great, and I enjoyed that the story is split up between the POVs of the two band members who discover their attraction for one another. It was interesting to see how the two of them processed the events of the book in different ways. All four of the band members were actually very well developed characters with important journeys of their own in addition to the adorable romance story-line.
This book tackled a lot of difficult and important topics that I wasn’t really expecting. Going into reading this story, I anticipated getting something like a glorified fan fiction story, which I was completely down to read. While there were some elements similar to fan fiction, this book had a weight and gravity to it that made it stand out. It shined a light on the abuses of the music industry and the ridiculous extent to which much of what we see of celebrities is a fabricated, inauthentic version of their lives. The story also highlighted some of the negative side effects of fame, including substance abuse, mental health issues, body image struggles, and the hypersexualization of teenagers. I was particularly disturbed reading the boys’ reactions to constantly being touched and photographed because I had never really stopped to think about how objectifying much of fandom culture can truly be.
Unsurprisingly, the queer rep in this story was fantastic. I especially appreciated how the bisexual character was presented. Seeing his thoughts about the struggle of coming to terms with his sexual identity was almost surreal. It was as if they plucked some of them straight from my own head. It is still weird for me when I see this type of representation because for most of my life I never saw anyone like myself (in this regard at least) in the media I consumed. So, it is still a very cathartic experience when I come across it in my reading, and I had that type of experience with this book. I particularly loved that the author took a little time to make connections between the similarities in feelings of the character toward his current romantic partner (a man) and his previous partner (a woman). It was a subtle reminder of the character’s bisexuality while also illustrating deeper issues and patterns relevant to the character. This is often something I find is missing in MM romance with a bisexual character; once with the perfect man, the bisexual character is usually that in name only with no references to attractions or feelings about women. So, I really appreciated the way it was handled here.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The romance was adorable, and the authors tackled some heavy, compelling topics with a great cast of characters. I recommend it to anyone but especially those who enjoy MM romance and stories about exploring one’s sexual identity. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.