Gonzales, Sophie and Cale Dietrich. If This Gets Out. St. Martin’s Press, 2022. 416 pp. ISBN 9781250805805 $18.99 $18.99
The members of Saturday, a fictional band modeled after One Direction, met at music camp as teens, and now at eighteen are hugely famous and on their first international tour. The singers are increasingly chafing at the archetypal boxes that management presses them into: the bad boy, the goofy one, the sexy one, the boy next door. The tour doesn’t leave any time for actual touring, it’s one locked hotel room after another. And fans have gone from cheering at a distance to smothering in their screaming adoration. Told in alternating chapters by Zach and Ruben, If This Gets Out details their affectionate friendship and growing attraction, Zach coming to terms with coming out, and the response from their colleagues, management, families and fans. Ruben has known he was gay for a long time, but recognizes their brands are designated to cultivate a wide fan base, and keeps things discreet. Management has been telling him since he was sixteen that he can’t come out; they promise that he and Zach can disclose their relationship publically “after Russia” but as time goes on, it seems like NO time is a good time to rock the boat.
This novel for teens is a sex (not TOO detailed), drugs and rock and roll lifestyle expose and critique that feels disturbingly realistic as it captures the sexualization of youth and homophobia still present in the entertainment industry and the high pressure environment of impossibly perfect standards and exhausting schedule that successful performers endure. The character development is strong as the members push through stereotypes and strain at their confines. Ruben’s passive-aggressive (possibly narcissistic, if I were diagnosing) mother is a piece of work, constantly berating him for not being good enough; Zach is sweet but confused, Jon is open minded but comes from a super-religious family, and his dad happens to be the big deal music producer that formed their boy band; Angel is delving into drugs and getting out of control. Ruben and Zach’s romance is fraught with fear but also passion. When the lovers try to spin the narrative on their own, the management company turns on them… but then their moms show up as a united front.
This novel could have gone so wrong, and read like bad 1D fanfiction, but it beautifully explores insecurity, anxiety, and a lot of other complicated emotions about people who love each other, change, and spend a lot of time in proximity. For another more adult look at romance while boy-band famous, read The Idea of You by Robinne Lee.
I checked this ebook out of the local library via #OverDrive.