Date Me, Bryson Keller // It Was So Good!

19 May 2020

Date Me, Bryson Keller – Kevin van Whye

Published: 21st May 2020

Source: Netgalley

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance

My Rating:

What If It's Us meets To All the Boys I've Loved Before in this upbeat and heartfelt boy-meets-boy romance that feels like a modern twist on a '90s rom-com!
Everyone knows about the dare: Each week, Bryson Keller must date someone new--the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Few think Bryson can do it. He may be the king of Fairvale Academy, but he's never really dated before.
Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.
Kai Sheridan didn't expect Bryson to say yes. So when Bryson agrees to secretly go out with him, Kai is thrown for a loop. But as the days go by, he discovers there's more to Bryson beneath the surface, and dating him begins to feel less like an act and more like the real thing. Kai knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. With his heart on the line, he's awkwardly trying to navigate senior year at school, at home, and in the closet, all while grappling with the fact that this "relationship" will last only five days. After all, Bryson Keller is popular, good-looking, and straight . . . right?
Kevin van Whye delivers an uplifting and poignant coming-out love story that will have readers rooting for these two teens to share their hearts with the world--and with each other.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

It’s not often I review a book straight after reading but… I had to. I needed to. This book was so good! I’m not going to lie, I was excited about this book anyway, I was planning on buying it as soon as it realised but when I saw I was approved on Netgalley, who was I to say no to reading it early? I’m so glad I did because this just gave me all of the happy feelings, it was exactly what I needed after a week of feeling grumpy and unmotivated. It’s not often I read YA now, I just don’t feel as much of a draw to a lot of YA releases, but gems like this one remind me why I always like to go back. I would like to say, I haven’t even tried to avoid spoilers in my review, there’s just so much I want to talk about


The premise is simple, Kai Sheridan is in the closet, his friends and family know nothing about him being gay. Bryson Keller is one of the most popular guys in school and he got roped into a silly dare where he must say yes to the first person who asks to date him at the beginning of each school week and they will then date for exactly 5 days. Kai probably doesn’t sound like he should be asking Bryson out at all, but impulsively he does. Bryson Keller becomes the only person in the school who knows Kai is gay and (apart from Kai’s friends) he couldn’t have picked a better person. Bryson could easily have been some popular douche who grows and develops and becomes a better person through the book (kind of Peter K type development, don’t even lie, I love the boy in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before but he needed a touch of emotional growth) but Bryson is popular and a genuinely lovely guy. He was so supportive of Kai, even before he realised he had feelings, he was there to help Kai realise things about himself. He joked with him and had fun, even talked about a crush that Kai had. And not once did he reduce down to Kai simply being ‘the gay one’ as Kai worried would happen when if he came out.


I did wonder how this book would effectively write Bryson, a straight character falling for Kai (because we all know they’ll end up together) but, actually, that was a narrow-minded assumption on my part. At one point in the book, Kai is talking about how his crush is straight and Bryson full-on asks him why he assumes guys he has a crush on are straight? It’s something which Kai ponders a lot too. Straight is defined as normal based on societies expectations. From a young age, we are taught that normal is a man and a woman in a relationship, we see it on TV and in magazines, it’s everywhere. But why is straight normal and anything else deemed as different? At no point are we told that Bryson is straight, it’s just an assumption I made and an assumption that those at his school make to. When the dare was made for Bryson to date people no one said it had to be girls, but only girls asked him out. I consider myself to be pretty open-minded, I don’t want to be that stereotypical white girl here, but one of my best friends is gay, yet I realise that I do tend to make the assumption about people I meet being straight and why should that be the case? I liked that this was brought up in the book because it’s a valid point, I know I’ve seen before that it’s unfair that coming out is not something you get to do just once, but instead is something you must do again and again because as you go through life you will meet more people and they will once more make the assumption you are straight, but having it rephrased to question why you assume people are straight, it’s crazy but true.


Anyway, it was a refreshing take for me and I appreciated reading it. I suppose I should have noticed more of the hints about Bryson. He was such a great and accepting person, and maybe he hadn't considered his sexuality at that point. I mean, his sexuality is not explored as in-depth as Kai’s as this was very much kai’s story, but it was silly that I made an assumption. I mean, Bryson showed hints of jealousy at one point, and he held Kai’s hand! Bryson didn’t even need to pretend to date kai really, but he did, he took him out for breakfast, he bought him lunch! I mean, Bryson was an amazing fake boyfriend and who would put in that level of effort if he didn’t have to? I just thought he was an amazingly good guy, but I think he realised quite quickly there was something there.


I think it’s obvious that this book also addresses Kai coming out to those around him. He was scared to come out, the only people he’d tried come out with before were his best friend’s in middle school and they rejected him and blanked him after that. It’s easy to see why he was unwilling to try that again. Unfortunately, he ends up having to. many things happen which mean he comes out to his parents and his school before he was willing to and that was sad. His parents' reaction is probably one which isn’t as uncommon as we might hope it to be. It is not all hugs and kisses and we accept you, not immediately. I got that, I suppose Kai’s parents had their own dreams and expectations about how Kai’s life would go and Kai’s family are regular churchgoers, he even says he’s heard his parents discussing how homosexuality is a sin. You get why it kind of went down like a lead balloon. Thankfully, Kai’s little sister, Yazz, is an absolute darling. She’s the hero in this one instantly accepting Kai and showing her support and she helped to bridge the gap between Kai and his mom and that was brilliant. I will say, Kai’s parents do show support in the end. Kai’s dad accepted him quite quickly after the shock wore off he was there showing his support, but Kai mom? She was a bit slower. And then the fact that Kai was forcibly outed at his school by nasty ass witch and she goes all mama bear. She was slower to come around and remember Kai was still her soon who she adored completely, but she got there and then she was on it being the parent she had always been.

It was interesting to see a very different reaction from Bryson's family. They were just so chilled about it and lovely. They took everything in their stride and that level of acceptance was amazing. I especially loved how Crystal, Bryson’s sister, was all smirking and teasing about it as any self-respecting older sibling would be. I think I liked the acceptance even more because Bryson’s mom was quite absent. She worked and she was successful but this meant sometimes she was away and wasn't physically there for him but you could tell she was always emotionally supporting him. That was obvious from how she called him at least once a day checking in and I liked that. It wasn't that his mom was absent she certainly cared but her work meant sometimes she wasn't there. It was good to see this didn’t fall into the trope of absent parents which I always hate in YA, but instead showed a different kind of parenting.

And Kai’s friends! I worried when they were acting a little funny around him that there would be some shaming when Kai came out but they were instantly there to support him. I think I appreciated that with the characters you saw people's true colours with how they acted. Some of Bryson's friends were idiots before with their homophobic remarks which were 'just jokes' and when they reacted badly to being called out you could see they just didn't get it. But then Donny and Priya, Kai’s best friends, just did. They knew their best friend and they were there waiting for him to be ready to talk to them. They had his back and they would have fought for him if that’s what he needed. Love best friends like that.

This was an adorable romance and I had a great time reading. I would have read it in one sitting but honestly, I needed to sleep. This is definitely a book where you need to read the author's note and acknowledgements because they just made me appreciate the book even more. I didn't realise the author was also from South Africa, like Kai's dad, and mixed race, like Kai, and the book was partially inspired by his own experiences. Got to show some love an excellent own voices read. I strongly recommend reading it. It started a little slow setting the scene with the dare but as it progresses and Kai's awkward adorableness came out swinging I was a goner.


Have you read this, do you agree with my thoughts? What are your favourite #ownvoices LGBTQ+ books?

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