About the Book

Title: If This Gets Out
Published: 2021
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Cartoon Cutesy, Boy Band Edish
BFF Charm: Let Me Love You, Big Sister
Talky Talk: He Said, He Said
Bonus Factor: One Direction
Anti-Bonus Factor: Awful Grown-ups
Relationship Status: Lying on Your Hinge Profile

Cover Story: Cartoon Cutesy, Boy Band Edish

As a graphic designer, the drop shadows here are KILLING ME. It looks like these are paper dolls that someone left out on the counter. And not in a good way.

The Deal:

Ruben, Zach, Angel and Jon are the four members of Saturday, the world’s biggest boy band. They’ve just finished the American leg of their world tour, and now it’s time to travel Europe to do it all over again. But getting to actually see Europe isn’t going to happen. Their days are scheduled down to the minute, and everything about their appearances and personalities are orchestrated to please their fans, sell their albums, and keep the money flowing in to their management company.

The guys are best friends off stage and on it, but they’re starting to crack under the pressure. Jon’s father is the band’s manager and pressure to please keeps Jon on edge 24/7. Angel is spending what little free time he has with a sketchy new crew and some unsavory drug habits. Ruben is gay, and he’s been told by management and record execs for years that coming out would harm Saturday’s bottom line, so he has to stay in the closet. Zach wants to write music but management keeps rejecting his attempts. Meanwhile, Zach and Ruben have caught feelings for each other, something that came as a surprise to Zach, who didn’t even realize he wasn’t straight.

As the tour continues to weigh on the members of Saturday, Zach and Ruben realize that they may never get to truly be out and together as long as they’re part of the world’s most famous boy band.

BFF Charm: Let Me Love You and Big Sister

BFF charm with teary eyes hugging a heart

Sweet Ruben. He’s put his whole ass identity on hold for Saturday. He’s hiding who he really is to the world, for the sake of the band. He’s super talented, but Management puts a damper on his shine to keep anyone from looking TOO closely at him. And as if it’s not enough for him to receive this treatment professionally, he’s also receiving it daily – and sometimes worse – from his mother. The ultimate stage mom, Ruben’s mother is constantly critiquing him, picking apart every performance and interview. She GOOGLES him then SENDS him negative press. RUBEN LET ME HUG YOU SWEET BB!

BFF Charm Big Sister with Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All's face

Meanwhile, Zach’s experience could not be further from Ruben’s. He has a supportive mom and his home life is a safe space. Sure, he wants to write songs and Management isn’t really letting him live his songwriting dream, but I got the impression that maybe Zach wasn’t a great songwriter anyway. All this to say, Zach is a BIT naive, and there were times when I wanted to bonk him on the head. No surprise that his romance with Ruben was eye-opening.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Despite having their every minute scheduled, Zach and Ruben have their nights to themselves…in hotels all over Europe….with minimal supervision. This leads to some exploratory evenings, though Gonzales and Dietrich stick to the fade-to-black approach when writing sexy business. But for me, the real swoon lies in the early stages, when both boys are crushing hard on each other and they’re both afraid to make the first move. I love that will-they-won’t-they build up so much that I had to deduct a point from my overall swoon score because Zach and Ruben get together a little *too* early in the story for my liking.

Talky Talk: He Said, He Said

The chapters alternate between Ruben’s and Zach’s POVs, and while I’m always a bit bad about confusing narrators in dual POV stories, it was especially difficult here, since Ruben and Zach’s day-to-day lives are almost entirely the same. That said, I thought the writing by both authors was great.

My issue with this book was less with the writing and more with the way it was pitched. This book was marketed as a secret romance between two boys in a boy band, and while that is indeed what happened here, much of Ruben and Zach’s romance took a backseat for the middle chunk of the book. This story was really more about the pressures of fame and the horrible way these boys were commodified for a group of adults – and the psychological damage that did to all of them. That isn’t better or worse than the queer secret romance story that I thought I was getting, per se, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

Bonus Factor: One Direction

In case you’re not following the internet’s biggest boy-band-related conspiracy theory, allow me to fill you in: fans love to speculate that Harry and Louis were in love when they were both members of 1D. So when word of this book hit the web, people LOST IT. But, IMO, the comparisons are pretty slim. None of the members of Saturday seemed based on members of 1D, plus Saturday only has four members! While I’m sure the harrowing schedule, controlled media presence, and life on the road are the same, that’s about the most common ground you’ll find.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Awful Grown-Ups

Boxtrolls characters

Oh my GOD the adults in this book are horrible. Sure, some of them are to be expected. Geoff, Jon’s dad and the boys’ manager through Chorus, sees these guys as a money making machine – even his own son! – and will always do the right thing for his bottom line without any care in the world for the actual people involved. Lots of their handlers were equally shitty. But possibly the adult that got under my skin the most was Ruben’s mother – a classic stage mom who doesn’t know how to be anything but critical.

Relationship Status: Lying on Your Hinge Profile

Book, you were quite a surprise. I thought I was getting one thing, and you turned out to be completely different. I was expecting a fluffy rom-com, but you had depths I didn’t expect. You weren’t perfect, and your surprising nature sometimes felt like you were trailing off course, but you came around in the end.

Literary Matchmaking

Red, White & Royal Blue

For another high-stakes, super secret gay romance, check out Casey McQuiston’s Red, White and Royal Blue.

Carry On (Simon Snow #1)

Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On started out as a shipper’s fanfiction in her book Fangirl before getting its own story.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this reviewIf This Gets Out is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.