Title: Kiss and Tell
Author: Adib Khorram
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Dial Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: March 22, 2022
Kiss & Tell is a total rush! Perfectly sweet and swoon worthy. I loved every page! – Julie Murphy, New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’
A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram
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.
Hunter is the only gay member of the Canadian boy band, Kiss and Tell. After they start their first North American tour, Hunter’s ex-boyfriend leaks texts and details about their relationship, fueling gossip about Hunter. People start to question if he is a good role model for young kids after this leak. Hunter starts dating Kaivan, the drummer for their opening act, and when their label finds out, they plan out the dates for them. The label also changes Hunter’s style to reflect a more family-friendly image. Hunter has to figure out how to deal with the vicious gossip and his new image before he has a complete breakdown.
This story was a fun look behind the scenes of a boy band. The boys had to deal with the usual problems of growing up, like new relationships, while also living in the public eye. There were news articles and interviews between chapters so we could see exactly what the press was saying about Hunter and the rest of the boy band.
Most of the characters had to deal with racism, homophobia, and sometimes both. The press and the public were horrible to the boys a lot of the time. It was interesting to see that everyone was okay with Hunter being gay, until the details of his sex life were leaked to the public. Once he was sexualized, he was no longer an “acceptable” gay, yet straight people don’t face the same kind of criticism. Many of these scenes were uncomfortable to read, but embarrassing moments and having them made public, especially in the days of social media, are part of growing up.
Kiss and Tell is a great, queer story!
Thank you Dial Books for providing a copy of this book.
What to read next:
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
Have you read Kiss and Tell? What did you think of it?