Quito never felt like he fit in at school. He spent most of his time playing the piano and helping his father, the school’s choir director. Quito wasn’t cool and he didn’t have a lot of friends. He certainly wasn’t anything like swoon-worthy Emmett Aoki. Just by existing, Emmett captivated everyone and that continued years later when Emmett became the hottest action movie hero.
But before Hollywood, Emmett joined the school choir where he was paired with Quito to work on their songs and, while the two of them became friends, Quito never thought that Emmett would ever reciprocate the ridiculous crush Quito had on him. Until that one night in college where lines were blurred and the men didn’t speak again for nearly 20 years.
Now, Quito’s father is retiring and he wants Quito to put on a final performance in their hometown. The catch—he wants Emmett to accompany him. Quito’s career didn’t go the way he wanted it to and his inspiration hasn’t been overly active. Now, he has to not only get in contact with Emmett, but convince him to come back to their high school, where they both realize those notes between them were always in sync.
All the Right Notes started off slow for me, but at some point I got invested in the lives of Quito and Emmett and how their story would play out. Told in alternating timelines where we see the men currently, as well as back in high school, we learn how Quito and Emmett became friends, what their relationship meant to each other, and how Quito and his father became family to Emmett.
Quito was a child prodigy piano player and he had a great life with his parents. After his mother died, his father supported Quito in all of the ways, but there was still a void as a family without Quito’s mother. Quito’s parents accepted everything about him and were enormously proud of him, but Quito wasn’t comfortable being himself in high school. Emmett had all of the charisma, but his family life wasn’t as fulfilling. Quito couldn’t put together all of the reasons that Emmett spent so much time with them and also Emmett couldn’t be true to his own feelings.
The book is told entirely from Quito’s POV and I really would have liked to have Emmett’s POV as well. Quito has an incredibly hard time seeing his own worth and reading other people and, even at the end of the book, it was difficult to know Emmett well. Also, this book is listed in the first line of the blurb as a rom-com. I did not find that to be an accurate categorization at all. I just didn’t feel it was a comedy and Quito’s life didn’t provide any specific humor, so I still wonder why it’s called a rom-com. Also, there are certain storylines in Quito’s life that take us up to a certain point, but are then never given a full conclusion and that left me with questions at the end.
The ending, while it does have some somber tones, leaves Quito and Emmett with the HEA they have also longed for, although we don’t get to see that much of them as a couple and some things I would have liked to have seen were off page. This is the first book I have read from Dominic Lim and I do look forward to seeing where his stories will go next.