The Real Score

The Real Score by Kesh TanglaoThe Real Score by Kesh Tanglao
Publisher: Independent
Number of pages: 157
My copy: Kindle edition

Caitlin’s friendship with Marcus, the de facto frontman of the world’s biggest boy band Gezellig, has long been an object of scrutiny by almost everyone–their friends and families, the media, and his fans–ever since they “went public” a couple of years back. Who wouldn’t be interested? She was a nobody, catapulted into the limelight of his fame when he struck an unusual friendship with her.

To both Caitlin and Marcus, what they have is a “perfect little thing.” But then something comes along and threatens it.

In a no-holds-barred interview, will they finally be forced to settle the score?

* * *

On my way home from Singapore, I intended to make the plane ride home a chance to make progress in our book club’s book of the month, Lolita. But somewhere after I was able to open my Kindle back again, I realized that I couldn’t focus on the book anymore because my mind kept wandering off. I needed something quick and light, something to keep me company for the next three hours that won’t put me to sleep. So I decided to switch to the latest release from our #romanceclass, Kesh Tanglao’s The Real Score.

Caitlin Tan had a very unusual friendship with Marcus Wayans — unusual mostly because Marcus is a part of the biggest boy band Gezellig, while Caitlin is an ordinary girl working in a media company in Manila, Philippines. Caitlin wasn’t even a fan of their band, until that night she met them through a meet-and-greet that she attended as a favor to a friend. She found a kindred soul in Marcus, and they became best friends, making an effort to keep their friendship alive despite the limelight that accompanied Marcus. But are they really just friends? Because no one in the world thinks so, despite their denial of anything romantic. When something comes along and threatens their friendship, followed by a no-holds-barred interview for a good cause, will the world know what is the real score between them?

I read a few parts of this novella while it was still on Wattpad before Kesh published it. Frankly, it reminded me a little bit of the band fan fiction that I used to read — you know, how this ordinary girl meets the band she’s been a fan of for ages, and then one (or two, or three) fall in love with her, and all that jazz. I wasn’t sure if it was my cup of tea, really, because the type of musician/band fiction I read are the likes of Five Flavors of Dumb or Amplified. But I kept reading on, and I was pleasantly surprised.

This is an unusual friendship story, but it’s not so unusual that it couldn’t be real. I mean, anyone can be friends with a famous person, although perhaps not the way Caitlin met Marcus. Even so, I liked how real they were, especially the band. As I read the book, they became less of band members, and more just ordinary British boys who like to sing. I also liked how the friendship between Caitlin and Marcus progressed, and I saw immediately from when they decided to be friends that they mean it, and they will work for it.  And because the friendship didn’t seem forced, the romantic developments that followed seemed just as natural, like that is the most obvious thing that should happen after.

As with every music-related novel, I wished I could hear the original songs mentioned in the book, but I settled for listening to the ones on the title of the chapters. I really liked reading about the backstage things — how the crew of a tour becomes your family, and how it can go crazy there, and how it seemed so fun. I had this little crazy dream of becoming a band’s roadie, or at least, produce more concerts on my own, and it was fun to read a slice of that kind of life here.

So I take it back: The Real Score is actually far from the band fan fiction I used to read. I finished the book with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, just as the plane started to descend to Manila. For a moment there, it almost felt like I was Caitlin, making a decision with how her life would go when she got off the plane. The Real Score is a story of friendship and romance, and all the mess that comes when the line between those two blur. Take away the superstar status of the guy and this can be anyone’s story, really. This novel hurt in just the right places, and it made me want the best for the two main characters. But more than the romance, The Real Score is also a story about taking risks, going out of your routine and allowing life’s curve balls to surprise you, both in good and bad ways. You never know what you will find when you decide to take the risk. :)

Number of dog-eared pages: 22

Favorite dog-eared quote(s):

“Is it weird if I ask you….to stay in my life and be my friend?”

“He’s one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. I think it was worth that much effort. If you want to make it work, make the effort.”

“Fight hard, Cait. Sometimes they only come once in a lifetime.”

“It’s okay,” I whispered, trying to assure him even when I know it’s not okay, and it’s never going to be. “You can let go now.”

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