Speaking Truth in If This Gets Out

Review:

If This Gets Out

By Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Romance/Contemporary 

QUILTBAG Main Character: Yes

QUILTBAG Minor Character: Yes

Main Character of Color: No

Summary: For eighteen-year-old superstars Zach and Ruben, life seems to be the stuff of dreams. They are part of one of the biggest groups in the world, about to start their first European tour, and have everything they could possibly want at their fingertips. Along with bandmates Angel and Jon, they fulfill lifelong goals while breaking the hearts of all the young women in the audience. 

But, secretly, Ruben is struggling to stay closeted. When he ends up confessing this to Zach, the two’s relationship slowly begins to shift. Now they are both being asked to keep their relationship private while Angel’s addictions spiral out of control. What starts as the trip of dreams, quickly, dissolves into one of nightmares. And more than one life is going to be completely changed by the end of it. Can Zach and Ruben find a way to be together in the public? What are they willing to risk to make it happen? And are they willing to take those risks?

A Little Bit of a Trigger Warning:

This book contains graphic depictions of substance abuse, homophobia, emotional abuse, and bodily injury. Please read this book with that in mind.

Let’s Get A Little Deep:

I remember my first concert. It was for my birthday, I was a teenager, and my favorite band was playing at the state fair. The band in question was Evanescence and I remember crying when Amy Lee stepped onto the stage. I was with my little sister, screaming and singing along, feeling more alive than I ever had before. I still get that absolute thrill of seeing a band or singer I love live. A few years ago, I got to return to an Evanescence show, this time with my spouse, both of us delightfully singing. I was older, openly queer, and enjoying something as much as I had as a closeted teenager if not more. I wonder, often, how much teenage me would have felt if her favorite singers had come out as queer. If This Gets Out is not just another coming out story, touching on what someone with a spotlight coming out does to an industry that thrives on appealing to straight women. It talks about the harm the industry can and often does do to its most important players. And it is an absolute banger of a book.

Ruben has been out to himself and his bandmates for pretty much forever. And while he’s accepted that there will likely always be reasons that the label wants him to stay closested, the struggles of doing so have made him weary, unable to let loose for fear of being caught by the media. Zach, meanwhile, feels the weight of being the peacemaker of the group, the one who is always sacrificing what he wants for what is best for the group. When he and Ruben kiss one night, Zach begins to question his sexuality and more or less everything about the life he’s led up until now.

Unfortunately, this comes at the worst possible time. Their first European tour is more effort than anyone in the group has realized. While Zach and Ruben butt heads with the label about their relationship, Angel is getting deeper and deeper into his worst habits. Jon is struggling with the label’s insistence that he be sexy when revealing clothing and sexual poses make him uncomfortable. When a sudden and violent change in their tour arrives, it forces every member of the group to figure out who they are, what they want, and what they are willing to risk to take back their lives.

This book’s deeply disturbing look into the world of closeted musicians felt both deeply sad and deeply hopeful. Angel’s addictions are a familiar vice for young people in the spotlight. Jon’s feeling of being objectified against his will is certainly something we see within the world of pop stars. Zach holding on, trying desperately to hold the group together feels right for an only child living with a single mother. Ruben’s desire to be free to be himself yet unwilling to take the steps necessary to get there hits home considering he’s the child of an emotionally abusive mother.

While each character faces very real and very heavy trauma, the book does remind us that there are ways past these problems. That, sometimes, speaking out truths help not only ourselves but those around us. When we speak up, when we fight for ourselves and our boundaries, we give courage and permission for those closest to us to do the same. Ruben eventually learns that coming out, standing up for himself and what’s important to him, is more important than worrying about what his mother or others might think of him. Zach learns that he can ask for what he wants, put his needs first, and that the world doesn’t end when he asks for help. Jon also learns to find his voice and Angel begins to work on recovery.

This all sounds like spoilers, but it is important to know that ultimately this is a book about hope. It is a story to remind you that, no matter how impossible, you can advocate for yourself. That, in doing so, you find you’ll be able to advocate for others more easily. It is a beautiful mix of romance, sorrow, and hope. I loved the characters and believed all of the story to be possible. It is the sort of story that stays with you long after you have finished the last page.

If This Gets Out is out now. I recommend checking it out, hopefully from your favorite brick and mortar bookstore!

Thanks for going a little deep with me! I post reviews every other Thursday. Did you love If This Gets Out? Leave a comment telling me about your first concert. You can also find me on Instagram @booked.with.grace and on Twitter @gwasserst! Special thanks to Yasi (@ynbushehri) for editing my posts.

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