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.
High school elections usually follow a predictable pattern, but every so often, an outsider enters the ring to shake up the status quo. This trope has been explored before, but it’s always fascinating to experience.
Despite being relatively new to the school and being a senior who will be gone when the school year ends, Mark wants to change some of the things he sees. There’s just one problem: the only reason his father—a Congressman—allowed Mark and his mother to move to the small town of Santa Julia is so that Mark could live as himself without that truth affecting his father’s political ambitions.
Thankfully, Mark has a great friend group who are willing to help him run for office, and seeing their methodical machinations was a lot of fun. But all that doesn’t stop Mark from worrying about what will happen if the kids at school find out that he’s trans.
This was a great book. The setup is fairly standard: popular sports boy versus outsider, but Sanchez adds layers of depth to the characterization. And of course, Mark must contend with the ever-present danger of being outed, which would affect his father’s political career. Despite a complicated relationship with his father, Mark doesn’t want to hurt his father’s chances of running for Senate.
There’s a nice balance of humor and gravity, as well as an unexpected romance for Mark. The beginning of the book does include content warnings for homophobia and transphobia, so potential readers should keep that in mind before reading this book.
I would absolutely recommend The (Un)Popular Vote. This is a great YA title and I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience. I’m looking forward to reading more from Sanchez in the future.
I received a digital ARC of this book from Harper Collins Children’s Books/NetGalley.