Publishing Date: December 7, 2021
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?
I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but once I got into it I flew through it and loved it.
I fell in love with these boys. All four of them, really, though we only got into Zach and Ruben’s heads. But Angel and Jon were such well developed characters that they didn’t really feel like side characters. And I would love to read more from their POV. I would also love to hear some of their songs. I would probably love them.
The premise, of a teenage boy band being stifled by its management and driven to the edge of implosion, echoed several stories that have been in the news of late, and the quiet desperation of each of the boys rang true. Reading it was at times painful and at times joyful and the experience was overall lovely. I really felt for all four of them, and it made me feel again my own teenage angst and love and queer joy.
This is a story about finding yourself and what you stand for, for standing up for yourself and those you care about, and for finding your voice in a world that wants nothing but to stifle it and stuff you back into the boxes you’ve outgrown. In other words, highly relatable.
The plot was believable, cohesive, and moving. I was surprised to remember that this was a coauthored book, with how streamlined and smooth it all was. I’ve read and loved Cale Dietrich’s work before, and now I’ll have to check out Sophie Gonzales’ books.
The only criticism I have is that sometimes Zach and Ruben’s voices seemed too similar – to the point I had to backtrack sometimes to remember whose chapter I was reading — especially surprising as I believe each was written by a different author. But most times they were distinct so it wasn’t a big deal.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing an e-arc for review.