“Everyone knows about the dare. Each week, the king of Fairvale Academy, Bryson Keller, must date someone new—the first person to ask him out on Monday morning. Until a boy asks him out, and everything changes.”
When I first saw the description for Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye I was expecting a cute, fluffy gay romance. While aspects of that were definitely in the book, there was also so much more included in this story.
This book follows Kai Sheridan, a closeted high school student who gets in on a dare by asking out the most popular boy in school, Bryson Keller. Every week, someone new has to ask out Bryson, and he has to say yes and date them for the whole week, or he loses the bet. Up until now, he’s only dated girls. Kai and Bryson decide to keep their relationship a secret, but after a couple days, people start to get suspicious.
At first, it’s all just a game for this couple. Bryson doesn’t want to lose his bet, and Kai wants to know what it’s like to have a boyfriend. He confides in Bryson, and for the first time, tells someone he is gay. Bryson promises to keep Kai’s secret, and treats him no differently than he would any other partner. That is, until some serious hand-holding occurs . . . Don’t worry, things continue to get better, at least for a little while.
My only issue with this book was the fact that Kai kept assuming Bryson was straight. There was a lot of internal dialogue that people were either “straight” or “gay” and there was no option for anything else, which is not true. I can understand how this would be problematic for some readers, so fair warning to those who may be affected.
Another content warning I think readers should know about in this book is surrounding forced outings. As I mentioned, Kai’s character hasn’t told anyone about his sexual orientation (until he tells Bryson). He also has an extremely religious mother, and while his friends are supportive, others at his school aren’t, either. When people find out he’s gay, it doesn’t go well.
That being said, one of my favourite things about this book (other than the adorable, sweet relationship), is Kai’s little sister. The way she stands up for him literally had me in tears. She’s such a strong, driven young girl, and I love her.
While there is a lot of cheesy teenage romance, this book explores many other important topics as well. There’s a lot more depth to it than people may think. I really hope that it finds its way to young readers who need it, and want to see themselves reflected in books featuring diverse characters.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye comes out on May 19, 2020, and can be pre-ordered or purchased wherever books are sold.