This book just asked you on a date for soft warm cinnamon waffles and told you that you’re doing your best. 🥺
It’s a soft one! It has: fake-dating, sexuality questioning, coming out when your family is religious, being mixed-race in a mostly-white high school, plus all the super cuuuute dating tropes your heart could want. Kai is a blushing disaster gay who spends 10mins looking at a text with a kissy emoji from his crush and being like “that was probably an accident???”
I definitely call this a cute feel-good contemporary, but it’s not all perfect and easy going. The ending tackled some deep harshness but it leaves you with hope.
Here comes the favourite fake-dating trope!
Bryson Keller (loveable golden retriever style popular soccer player) agrees to a dare where he dates someone new each week for 3 months. But other people have to ask HIM. It’s all superficial and fun and the whole high school is in on the game…until Kai Sheridan (resident awkward writer) gets annoyed and asks Bryson Keller to date him.
This is complicated because Kai is closeted. But, for some unknown reason, Bryson says yes. And look, we know up front our son Bryson cannot be super straight (he’s the dream kind sweet boy too by the way; your new fave unproblematic white boy) and I so appreciated the unpacking of “not knowing”. Some people do not know or think to question their sexuality and we need more of thsi in books too!
A Coming Out Story
I also hear people say they’ve “read enough coming out stories”, but it’s a conversation we need and there are still so many versions to tell. Kai is mixed race (South African dad and white mother) and they are also heavily religious. My heart wrenched for Kai as he wondered if he could tell his happy-easy-going-jokey parents this hidden and pure truth of himself.
You can also see how deeply #ownvoices this is with all the love and aching on the page (the author’s note in the ARC is amazing; about how he wrote this to encourage teens and to inspire more POC and queer authors to tell their stories).
There’s also several times in the book where someone talks about how unfair it is that gay teens can be outed, or treated badly, or rejected, or abused. “I can’t believe it’s still happening!” they say. Which is, you know, super privileged to even utter. It does happen all the time. The anxiety that queer teens face every single day is represented so palpably in this book; it IS unfair and ridiculous, but it’s not a thing of the past and discrimination and parental rejection is not over.
One thing I would’ve liked to see, though, was a bit more flow to the dialogue and a little more focus with the plot.
Super cute, feelsy and loveable — this is the kind of #ownvoices queer romcom that you need to try! It will definitely make you smile and your heart just go sQUisH.
Thanks Penguin Australia for the ARC! Date Me Bryson Keller by Kevin Van Whye is out July 2nd, 2020.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before meets Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda as a swoony summer romance blossoms between two boys who start secretly dating.
‘Date me, Bryson Keller!’
Everyone at Fairvale Academy knows Bryson Keller, the super-hot soccer captain who doesn’t believe in high-school relationships. They also know about the dare Bryson accepted – each week he has to date the first person who asks him out.
A single school week is all anyone gets. There have been no exceptions to this. None.
Until me, that is.
Because brilliant Bryson Keller forgot one thing. He never said it could only be girls . . .
is this one on your tbr? what’s the last romcom you read? (do you often read contemporaries?)