Book review: Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye
Book reviews

Date Me, Bryson Keller – Kevin van Whye

Book review: Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye
Release date: 2 July 2020
Goodreads link
Book Depository link
Penguin purchase link for Aussie’s
5 stars

Date Me, Bryson Keller – Kevin van Whye blurb:

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.
Until me, that is.
Because brilliant Bryson Keller forgot one thing.
He never said it could only be girls…

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Yes, this amazing book that I have been quietly screaming about since April was FINALLY published in Australia on 2 July. And trust me when I say, you need this in your life.

Synopsis is Kai is one of the quiet kids at school. At a start of year party, Bryson Keller, serial anti-dater, soccer star and all-round nice guy, agrees to a bet where he will date the first person to ask him each Monday morning, until that Friday afternoon. But one particular Monday morning the bet causes Kai to be covered in coffee and late to class, giving him detention. When he’s paired with Bryson in drama he’s so annoyed with him that Kai asks him out to make him say no and then lose the bet. But he doesn’t… And so begins the week that Bryson and Kai date.

I read this book in one sitting. And I wanted to read it again as soon as I had finished. This book will very likely make my top 10 for the year.

the good

OH. MY. FREAKING. GOD. Seriously, this book could not be any cuter if it tried. It’s gentle and warm and comforting. Like holding a mug of hot chocolate (or whatever your beverage of choice is) and being hugged by a plushie, in the middle of a blanket fort, with copper wire fairy lights strung up around it. That’s the aesthetic for this adorable own-voices queer YA contemporary romance. And if that doesn’t get you to read it, then I’m not sure if we can be friends any more.

But how can I go anywhere when Bryson Keller just said he is attracted to me? How does moving from this spot make any sense? I should live here now, never moving, never budging. Please forward all mail to this address.

Ok, so here are some of my favourite things about this book (I’m trying to keep this short otherwise we’ll be here all day while I quote the entire book to you).

  • Fake dating trope: To be entirely fair, Bryson basically fake dates everyone. He only dates each person for a week. But, they’re still both so adorable cute and also, FAKE DATING TROPE.
  • Authentic characters: All of the characters felt real to me. They had motivations and faults and their own way of talking. I loved that you got a tiny bit of South African slang (the author is ownvoices BIPOC and lives in Johannesburg, as well as ownvoices LGBTQ). They are characters that I could connect to and empathise with quickly, even the ‘mean’ ones. Also, can I adopt them??
  • The romance: This story features the most softly quiet and gentle romance between two boys. They each have their hearts broken for different reasons, but they are loving and giving with each other. They’re also trying to figure themselves out: who they are, how they feel, what they want to be. If you’re looking for a story that isn’t heavy on the romance, then this is what you are looking for. There’s no heavy makeout sessions or any crap. They do talk about feeeeeeelings though.

This book, while also making you cry, will give you all of the warm and fuzzies.

the not-so-good

There is nothing bad about this book. The whole thing is amazing, from cover to cover, and while it is super cute, there ARE sad parts, and parts that might trigger you. So let’s talk about them instead.

Anyone who thinks that homophobia doesn’t exist in this day and age has never been the gay boy standing in a boy’s locker room.

When I requested an ARC of this book, I thought I was requesting a super-sweet, adorable queer romance, written by an own-voices author. And it is this, but it’s so much more than that.

The book starts with this beautiful image of a gay teen with supportive friends and a loving family – and he has all of that. But he’s also in the closet, wondering if he will continue to have all of that when he comes out, and that is heartbreaking.

I plan on telling both Priya and Donny … after we’ve graduated from high school. I don’t plan on coming out until then, because even in a school with out-and-proud students and an active LGBTQ club, “gay” is still a label.

This book deals with some really hard-hitting topics. People are ‘outed’ against their will, there is bullying and harassment, homophobia, and not everyone is as supportive as what you would want. But this is life as well.

my thoughts

This book is about learning to accept who you are, even if that doesn’t make everyone around you happy. Because, unfortunately, this is still a reality that a lot of queer teens face, and it breaks my heart. This book is having honest conversations, which is such a huge reason that ownvoices books are important!! They show you what it can be like, and what it is like for some.

I long to be able to talk openly about who I like, not just with my friends, but with the rest of the world, too. It’s unfair how heterosexuals get to love, laugh, and live so freely, while we second-guess everything. Our actions are always cautious.

Whether you relate to Kai’s mixed race heritage, religious and/or immigrant parents, being in the closet, or just having a crush on someone that you can’t talk about, these are things that people go through. Ownvoices books are about learning of experiences outside your own and building awareness and empathy.

But reading this book is worth any small amount of pain it may cause you. Because the overall messages are of love, hope and acceptance. And that’s just as important.

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Thank you to Penguin Australia for providing me a free copy to review.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.

until next time, happy reading! Meeghan xo


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