So, I actually ended up loving this book a lot because it does a lot of things that I would love to see more of in YA.
But more on that in a hot minute.
Cal is a popular video blogger who is becoming well known for his Refinery29-like exposes and journalism. He lives in Brooklyn and loves the fast-paced color of the city life. That's why, when his father makes a surprise announcement that not only has he been hired as an astronaut, but they're all being uprooted to Texas, Cal is utterly devastated. To make matters worse, the reality TV channel filming the astronauts and their families has a gag order on any media streaming done by the astros or their families.
Once in Texas, Cal meets one of the other astronaut children, an ex-gymnast named Leon. He feels an instant connection to Leon, but Leon has depression, and is learning to set boundaries and stand up for himself in therapy and warns Cal that he doesn't do things by halves and won't be with someone who can't accept him.
Tensions rise as the fate of the current project becomes uncertain and Cal's clash with the TV channel becomes more heated. All he really wants to do is find certainty in his future, both with regard to love and his would-be career, but fate rarely makes things easy and sometimes we have to deal with a few curveballs before we finally hit that home run.
I loved the romance between Leon and Cal. I liked that Leon set boundaries and Cal respected them. I liked the steam between them. I liked that it didn't feel exploitative, the way a lot of M/M stories (especially ones written by some women) can feel. This was just a beautiful love story between characters you feel like you could meet on the every day and I loved that. I also liked that Cal questioned his sexuality (like Leon) and how we get a bit of backstory on his one girl friend, who he used to date.
I liked Cal's blogging a lot, too, which surprised me, because a lot of authors don't know what they're talking about when they write about blogger or influencer culture. But Stamper nailed it. Cal reminded me a lot of other male YouTubers I really like-- YouTubers like Danny Gonzalez or Jarvis Johnson, who use their authenticity to bring attention to important issues and debunk fake "facts."
I liked the positive rep for science in this book. I just read yet another book with evil scientists, so it's always nice to see a book that gives the sciences the positive rep it so sorely needs. The ending, with the interviews with the astronauts, was one of my favorite parts (and no, don't worry-- that's not a spoiler).
This was a really great book. It's a fluffy, light-hearted romance that also manages to deal with real world issues, and isn't afraid to be steamy and use foul language while also making a beautiful point about what it truly means to be authentic and find love while also learning to love yourself.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
4 out of 5 stars
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