It’s so funny that I once made a TikTok about how I don’t care for fake-dating because I just checked my Goodreads reading challenge for this year, and I think “The Feeling of Falling in Love” is at least the third fake-dating book I’ve read this year. Against all odds, I think it’s actually growing on me.
Or maybe it’s because I just love reading anything that Mason Deaver has written. Who knows.
“The Feeling of Falling in Love” depicts a delightfully queer take on the fake-dating trope when Neil, one of two out trans people at his boarding school in North Carolina, takes his roommate (Wyatt) as a plus-one to his brother’s wedding after his friends-with-benefits declares his love for him.
You know what comes next.
(Neil and Wyatt fall in love. Big surprise.)
I honestly think Deaver should just be in charge of coming up with all YA love interests from now on. Raised by loving gay parents, dreaming of becoming a musician and constantly wary of the entitled rich people at school, Wyatt is absolutely lovely, the perfect foil for Neil. The two of them had wonderful banter and the most adorable interactions together.
In contrast, Neil is a very flawed main character who makes a lot of mistakes that all kind of compound on each other. He comes from a rich family and thinks throwing money at problems will solve them; he’s quite impulsive; he tends to push people away instead of opening up to them because that’s just what his whole family does.
But when you have a character with so many flaws, they also have more room to grow, and Neil’s growth is incredibly apparent by the end of the novel. Deaver writes very candidly about the teenage experience. When you’re a teen (or even a tween), every single bad thing that happens to you feels like the end of the world, and Neil’s feelings are no exception to that.
Needless to say, it’s extremely fitting that the cover of this book depicts a person falling into an on-fire dumpster. That’s just how intense teenage emotions are. I remember being in high school and feeling like the world was ending at every slight inconvenience.
I can’t write about this book without mentioning the fact that this is a T4T romance; Deaver has been very open in their promotion of the book about Wyatt’s character arc, in which they come to realize they’re nonbinary. As much as a lot of people might consider this a spoiler, it’s really important to the point of the novel — trans kids deserve to read love stories about people like them.
Deaver’s third novel captures the teenage experience like no other, wrapping it all up in an unabashedly queer story. I absolutely cannot wait for more people to experience it.
“The Feeling of Falling in Love” comes out on Aug. 2, 2022. I received an early copy of the book from the author! (Thank you, Mason!)