This was such a special, refreshing, thought-provoking and entertaining book about what it’s like to be a queer member of a boy band. There were so many meaningful discussions and insights on homophobia, racism, bottom-shaming, and expectations put upon queer celebrities from the queer community as well, but it was also such an adorable coming-of-age story with lovable characters.
Kiss & Tell follows seventeen-year-old Hunter Drake, who is an out and proud gay member of an international sensation Canadian boy band, who has recently broken up with his long-term boyfriend Aidan Nightingale. Aidan is also the twin brother of the bandmate, Ashton Nightingale, which makes things extra complicated. Especially as Hunter starts to get feelings for the drummer in the opener band, Iranian-American Kaivan Parvani. When a jealous Aidan leaks some sexting tweets between him and Hunter, Hunter will learn the hard way the limits to what level of queerness that is respectable to heterosexual fans and media, but also the homophobia and pressure to be masculine even in the queer community and bottom shaming. As damage control, the record label set Hunter and Kaivan up for some public fake dates that might not be as fake as the label thinks though…
I really loved the coming-of-age parts and the way Hunter had to grow as a character to break free from the expectations put upon him from both the label and fans and not the least the queer community, to find a balance between the public persona forced upon him and trying to live his life authentically. Hunter was such a lovable character, who truly wanted to make a positive difference to the LGBTQ+ community, and who had to struggle not to lose himself despite constantly being told how to act and how to dress, then criticized by the public for every little thing. He was a little ignorant and selfish at time, not understanding that his band members also had struggles on their own with racisms, but I rooted so much for him from the very start.
I also really enjoyed the extra content with tweets, interviews and news articles, which added to the understanding of what Hunter had to deal with in the form of media, fan opinions and the record label’s cynicism.
The romance part of this book was not as strong as I’d hoped for and I basically think this book is more of a coming-of-age story than a YA romance. I never fully trusted Kaivan and couldn’t fully invest in his and Hunter’s relationship, which felt lukewarm all the time to be honest. I also had some problem relating to the other band members, who weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been. Especially since there were a lot of potential in their culturally diverse backstories as well. But I truly enjoyed the aspect of the story where Hunter realized that he was not the only one struggling, but that his bandmates were also facing bigotry and discrimination.
All in all, this was a thought-provoking, yet sweet and adorable, read about finding out who you are in the spotlight! I adored the main character and appreciated the way Adib Khorram addressed issues like bottom shaming and how Hunter felt the pressure to conceal his identity even after coming out, in order not to be “too queer” and how not only conservative fans and media but also the queer community put expectations upon him. Highly recommended!
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abby Kaitz Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Alice Winn Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira Amanda Woody A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Ban Gilmartin Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cait Nary Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare Cat Sebastian C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Christina Lee Ciara Smyth Claerie Kavanaugh Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Courtney Kae Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Dallas Smith Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton D.N. Bryn Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E.L. Massey E. Lockhart Emery Lee Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens F.T. Lukens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hannah Grace Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving H.S. Valley Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacob Gelman Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson James L. Sutter Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jen Bailey Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kathy Anderson K.A. Tucker KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Lauren Shippen Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Lex Croucher Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr M.A. Wardell Melanie Munton Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nathaniel Shea Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Nyla K. Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rachel Reid Racquel Marie Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Taylor Jenkins Reid Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Tracy Deonn Tucker Shaw Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez