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 . . .
I immediately knew that I was going to love Bryson and Kai’s story, as soon as it was described as TATBILB meets Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, as I absolutely adored those stories too. I would also just like to add that this has many Love, Victor vibes to it as well, so if you have managed to watch that TV series – you are going to love this book just as much!
There was something about Kevin’s style of writing that had me grasped from the very first page. It felt like Kai was already my best friend before I even got to truly know him and I think that it is so special for readers when reading a book. It is so easy to fall in to Kai’s world, you really feel like you’re on this journey with him and I absolutely loved that Kevin was able to allow me that escapism from my own world. Kai is a closeted gay, raised in a religious family. He is awkward, filled with anxiety, loves to write and hates maths – could Kai BE a more male version of myself!? I genuinely think that’s why I fell in love with him from the get-go – he’s such a relatable character, who pretty much sums up exactly what my high school self was once like. I most certainly can’t sit and say that I know what it feels like to be gay in a society still so against allowing themselves to open their minds and appreciate that love is love, but I can certainly say that it fills me up with such rage as to how people refuse to let go of old traditions and enter a new world full of endless possibilities. It baffles my mind, really. In Kai’s situation, religion is where he is most held back and I respect people’s religious beliefs so much, however, when it comes to your own flesh and blood, there has got to be some sort of a line between following your religion, and also loving the one’s close to you no matter what. It just seems bizzare to me that to some people it’s either you take one side or the other, there can be no inbetween. I really did feel for him, as he was keeping his true self hidden, to make others happy, neglecting himself from happiness of his own.
Bryson Keller, on the other hand, is quite the opposite to Kai with his popular and good looks, exuding him with confidence. He is very much against dating in high school, which leads to a dare being created just for him, as some girls in particular want to change his opinion. Every Monday for three months, Bryson has to say yes to the first person who says “Date me, Bryson Keller” and date them for a week. There are rules to this dare though including no physical touching and no falling in love for real – if Bryson was to break these rules, he loses the dare. Sounds pretty simple to me… it can’t be that hard to date somebody for a week and not fall in love… or is it?
The blossoming friendship between Bryson and Kai really tugged at my heart strings and had me swooning more than enough times. I loved how easily the two of them vibed off of one another, despite their lack of interactions before, whether that be with humour, awkwardness and/or flirting. The chemistry was just magnetic in an instant and Kevin really captured their story perfectly from the very beginning – from friends to lovers, we LOVE to see it! Bryson was so protective of Kai as soon as his sexuality was revealed and it couldn’t have been any sweeter. He acknowledged Kai wherever they were, despite the whispering and unwanted opinions around them and it was quite clear that there was a little more going on than just fake dating. Every single moment between them was just so beautiful and so real, you’d be crazy not to be on board this ship!
As heart-breaking as it was to witness some characters not be as understanding as others, it really does make you wonder where your support system truly lies. The majority of us expect to be supported and accepted by our parents no matter the circumstances, as we should, however for Kai this was a downfall within his family, whereas Bryson’s family glided through it with ease. Kai found his support system within his two best friends Priya and Donny, and also his sister Yazz, who is an ultimate icon who dealt with everything like an absolute Queen, whereas Bryson’s best friends were ready to sabotage his happiness in the snap of a finger. It is a sad reality that homophobia still exists and outing one’s sexuality is something people are actually disgustingly okay with doing. This book brought more smiles to my face than any other emotion, however that being said, there were still heartbreaking scenes that take place and I, as a straight woman, found it difficult to keep my emotions in check, so I can not even begin to imagine how it will feel to a reader who is really experiencing this for themselves.
I could honestly talk about this book forever, but I want you all to go and read it for yourselves because it is truly an experience that can’t be missed. It is an opportunity to allow your mind to keep expanding and for teens that are a part of the LGBTQ community, who are struggling to tell their sexuality or are dealing with homophobic people because of their sexuality – this book is most definitely a safe space and will teach so many that they are not alone in this, whilst also allowing them to laugh and smile along the way. I can’t wait to see what story Kevin is going to share with us next and it’s already on my imaginary pre-order list! A beautiful, inspiring story of finding and becoming your true self.