Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph used to think their friendship was unbreakable. After all, they’ve been though a lot together, including the astronomical rise of Moonlight Overthrow, the world-famous queer pop band they formed in middle school, never expecting to headline anything bigger than the county fair.
But after a sudden falling out leads to the dissolution of the teens’ band, their friendship, and Eva and Celeste’s starry-eyed romance, nothing is the same. Gina and Celeste step further into the spotlight, Steph disappears completely, and Eva, heartbroken, takes refuge as a songwriter and secret online fangirl…of her own band. That is, until a storm devastates their hometown, bringing the four ex-best-friends back together. As they prepare for one last show, they’ll discover whether growing up always means growing apart.
Stories about friendship have a special place in my heart. As a younger person growing up, going through changes in life and seeing the people who I thought would be in my life forever slowly drift away and no longer exist in the landscape of my life was such a tough thing. Likewise though, I also had friends who changed with me, grew up with me (even if we became different people), and there were even some people where I grew apart from them, only to eventually come together. So when It Goes Like This was pitched to me, about an all-queer teen pop group who fall out following their breakup, but come together one last time and have to traverse the uncertain territory of reuniting? I was immediately intrigued – and, unsurprisingly, I fell in love with this gorgeous, heartfelt book.
It Goes Like This follows four former members of Moonlight Overthrow, a world-famous teen pop group that took the world by music industry and the world by storm. Years after a messy fall out and band breakup, a devastating storm sweeps across their hometown, the ex-best-friends come together for one last concert – and have to navigate the past, the uncertain present, and the future of their friendship.
If you love character-driven stories with gorgeous lyrical writing, then It Goes Like This is guaranteed to be a satisfying read. The story is told from four different perspectives, one for each of the band members in present day as well as several chapters in years past. There’s Eva, who bore the emotional brunt of the fallout and post-breakup is a songwriter and is a secret online fangirl of Moonlight Overthrow; there’s Gina, who moved away from singing and is now a Grammy award-winning actress (though she longs to sing again); there’s Celeste, who pursued a solo music career (and still sings about the girl she still loves); and there’s Steph, who disappeared from the public eye to be with their family. I loved that the story hooks you, pulling you in with questions of: why did they break up? Why the fallout? And how would they navigate coming together again, despite the messiness of the past?
Often stories with multiple perspectives have a particular character’s chapters that are stronger or more enjoyable to read. With It Goes Like This, though, each chapter goes from strength to strength, building an incredibly down-to-earth story with emotional beats that hit and are satisfying. I empathised with Eva’s bitterness yet the deep connection she feels towards Moonlight Overthrow and her ex-best friends. I rooted for Gina and her ambition, but also really related to her feelings of doubt (and her secretly missing the things she left behind). I related to Steph and their feelings of duty and protectiveness towards their family, and also their need to make amends for all the years they were absent. And I also adored Celeste, who loves deeply and grows to realise that she made a mistake with her first love, and loving in the face of the unknown is scary but brave. Each character and their stories were emotionally rich, and wonderfully told, and it was such a delightful experience to get to know Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph.
At the heart of It Goes Like This is a story about friendship. I loved that the story wasn’t just about ‘the power of friendship’. Rather, It Goes Like This is a story about how friendships can change as we grow up, that people are pulled away from each other when they follow their own paths in life and ultimately grow apart. What I loved even more was that It Goes Like This doesn’t present itself as a harsh lesson to the realities of friendship and change. Rather, It Goes Like This is a gentle and empathetic love letter to friendship, that friendship can sometimes be a brave endeavour that is easier with friends who love you as much as you love them. Ultimately, I appreciated that ‘the power of friendship’ is a conclusion that the story works hard to arrive to. It Goes Like This overflows with love and hope, which is why the story will stay with me.
It Goes Like This is also beautifully and unapologetically queer, as well as all the Moonlight Overthrow band members. There’s a gorgeous queer second-chance romance between Eva and Celeste (and I like that their romance was equal parts passion and attraction with equal parts reconciliation and open, honest communication). Gina is a Black queer woman who has a cute ‘maybe?!’ flirty romance with a production assistant, and Steph comes out as non-binary post-breakup, and how everyone accepts this and shows Steph so much love is gorgeous. It was fun and lovely to read a story where four queer characters are loved and accepted, where being queer is celebrated and a point of connection for the vibrant fandom that encircles Moonlight Overthrow.
MY CONCLUSION: RECOMMENDED
It Goes Like This balances the beauty of queer love and identity and the joy of fandom with a deeply emotional story about friendship, growing up, and how change is inevitable but can be weathered. This queer young adult contemporary, despite centering on famous teens, is a wholly down-to-earth, sweet and wholesome story with amazing emotional moments that land beautifully.
Is this book for you?
Premise in a sentence: Former members of a world-famous queer teen pop group reunite for a benefit concert and have to grapple with their friendship, the past, and the future.
Perfect for: Readers who love stories about fandoms; who want to read something queer and very queer-positive; who love stories about friendship
Think twice if: You are not a fan of YA contemporaries
Genre: young adult contemporary
Trigger/content warning: ableism (challenged), alcohol consumption, natural disaster (scenes with the aftermath of the disaster), ill loved one, mentions of anti-queer rhetoric and sentiment