Optics can make or break an election. Everything Mark knows about politics, he learned from his father, the Congressman who still pretends he has a daughter and not a son.
Mark has promised to keep his past hidden and pretend to be the cis guy everyone assumes he is. But when he sees a manipulatively charming candidate for student body president inflame dangerous rhetoric, Mark risks his low profile to become a political challenger.
The problem? No one really knows Mark. He didn’t grow up in this town, and his few friends are all nerds. Still, thanks to Scandal and The West Wing, they know where to start: from campaign stops to voter polling to a fashion makeover.
Soon Mark feels emboldened to engage with voters-and even start a new romance. But with an investigative journalist digging into his past, a father trying to silence him, and the bully frontrunner standing in his way, Mark will have to decide which matters most: perception or truth, when both are just as dangerous.
Thank you to Harper 360 YA for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Firstly, happy book birthday to this book! This book is released today in some parts of the world and I think next month here in the UK. I would also like to say thank you to Harper 360 for sending me this advanced copy, as this ended up being one of my most anticipated release of the year and I really enjoyed it. This book is slightly odd for me as the main character has the same full name as my boyfriend, and it comes up a lot in the book because of the nature of the election. Every time his name was mentioned, it made me smile because of it being my boyfriend’s name too!
I honestly loved this so much for so many other reasons too, especially because of how diverse it was. The main character is trans and I adored the discussions that this brought up. It felt so authentic and although some of this was tough to read because of Mark’s relationship with his father, it felt so natural and I found it interesting to read about. The larger cast of characters is also super diverse in gender identity, sexuality and religion. Again, all of this representation felt natural and authentic and I loved it.
The plot of this book was entertaining and kept me interested in the story, but at the same time let me down a little because it felt predictable in some ways. It followed a few typical tropes and plot lines for YA, which is why I found it slightly predictable. I also felt the author did a great job of making us feel sympathetic to Mark even when he made some mistakes. These mistakes were hurtful to other characters, but felt natural and understandable rather than making us judge him for his actions.
I adored the friendship group and they had a real found-family feel for me which was one of my favourite things about this book. The interactions between them were so heartwarming and seeing them support each other as they grow up and explore their own identities was so lovely and emotional.
Overall, this was definitely more of a character driven story for me than a plot driven story, as the plot did let me down in places. However, I did really enjoy this one and it was brilliantly queer and diverse!
4.5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽