G. Bianco, 2019
From the author of Darius the Great Is Not Okay comes a novel about being queer in the public eye. Set to be published on March 22nd, Adib Khorram’s Kiss & Tell is a fun and binge-worthy book that still tackles tough topics that many teens can relate to.
Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend--leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all--and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens. But Hunter isn't really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T's shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the drummer for the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble—for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.
This book really dives into what it’s like to always be in the spotlight and I loved how honest it was about fame and what it can do to a person. Readers see the way Hunter has to grapple with figuring out who he is as an artist and person, while the media, his record label, and his fans all try to tell him who he should and shouldn’t be. Not only does Hunter struggle being young in the public eye, but also with being queer in the public eye. The focus of this novel was more of a coming-of-age-in-the-spotlight story and how the media, the internet, and all these external people are now influencing and picking apart everything you do and Khorram does a great job of showcasing Hunter’s experiences in a fun, but also real, way.
Despite the tough topics, readers can’t help but root for Hunter and want to see him discover his true self. The little bits of romance sprinkled throughout the story were fun and seeing Hunter want to make things work with Kaivan, his friendships with his bandmates, and his grasping onto his Canadian Roots makes him such a fun and relatable character to read about.
What makes this novel really unique is the mixed media aspect of it. While most of the novel is in Hunter’s POV, there are snippets of news articles and transcripts from interviews that showcase the influence of the media on Hunter and the rest of his bandmates' lives.
If you were ever a fan of a boy band (or still are) then this is a great peek behind the curtain of what it’s like living the rockstar life and having everything you do picked apart. However, the glitz and glamor of stardom still shine and you’ll be wanting to go to a Kiss & Tell Concert by the time you’re done reading this book!
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!