Continuing my quest to read only queer books this month, here is Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall, a quick and easy read about a boy who falls in love with his next-door neighbor and best friend.
Been Here All Along is told in four alternating viewpoints: best friends since childhood Gideon and Kyle, Ruby (Kyle’s girlfriend of six months), and Ezra (Gideon’s older brother). Sadly, there isn’t much difference between the four POVs. They all have a very similar voice and cadence, and sometimes I had to scroll back to see whose head I was supposed to be in, especially between Gideon and Kyle. Ezra as a POV character is completely unnecessary; his perspective adds nothing and only serves to reinforce or directly point out what we’ve observed in Gideon and Kyle’s chapters. Having Ruby as a POV does her character no favors; she comes across as very hateful and vindictive.
This book has some very good things going for it. Gideon and Kyle have a very open and communicative friendship. Kyle is bisexual and comfortable and confident in his sexuality; the novel starts with him coming out to Ruby. Gideon, once he realizes that he is gay (or at least in love with Kyle – I have my suspicions he may be demi but the book really doesn’t delve too deeply into that), does not panic about his sexuality; he only worries about what these feelings will do to their friendship. They both have supportive, present parents and accepting families. Gideon is Jewish. Kyle has a learning disability, which is addressed and diagnosed as part of the story, so his school struggles are depicted.
There are also some aspects working against it. The writing feels very juvenile. The pacing was off; big conflicts are resolved much too quickly. As much as I loved Gideon’s gay epiphany, it sort of comes out of nowhere. The characters seem one-dimensional, with their interests and hobbies given in place of a personality. As I mentioned before, it was extremely difficult to like Ruby, particularly when you see her thought process. Kyle almost cheats on Ruby with Gideon (but thankfully does not), and I’m very tired of romanticizing the idea of confessing your feelings to someone already in a relationship. (Please do not do this.) A lot of things are introduced but never really dealt with, such as Ruby’s family’s financial situation or Ezra having to move back from California because he’s broke.
I’m not sure if I can really recommend this book. I didn’t love it – I’m not even sure I liked it. It’s okay, which I know is far from a ringing endorsement. It’s on the short side and it didn’t take much time to read, so if you’re looking for something quick and kind of cute, you may like it.
Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall is published by Swoon Reads and is currently available wherever books are sold.
Don’t forget to check out my other Pride Reads!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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