Saturday, May 7, 2016

Book Review: "Been Here All Along" by Sandy Hall

This was a sweet, heartwarming book I read in about 90 minutes. (File me under "People with no plans on Friday night.")

Gideon is smart, organized to a fault, always on time, and always is planning his next steps, which include running for class president and getting into a good college. His best friend Kyle is, in many ways, his complete opposite—the star basketball player, who doesn't like to read (or really even think about college), who's never on time for anything and is always a bit disorganized. But since the two have been friends since they were five, they share a lot, including a love for all things related to Lord of the Rings. (They even speak and write in Elvish at times.)

Gideon is prepared for everything, except the realization that he's fallen in love with his best friend, who happens to be dating Ruby, the head cheerleader. He doesn't want to jeopardize their friendship, so he does everything to convince himself why a relationship with Kyle could never work. But the heart knows differently than the brain.

Kyle feels pretty happy with his relationship with Ruby and his friendship with Gideon. Until both of them start acting weirdly, and Kyle wants to figure out what he did wrong.

Sandy Hall's Been Here All Along is an enjoyable look at how the boundaries between friendship and love can get blurry at times, and how the head and the heart sometimes want different things. It's also a look at the roadblocks we put up to protect ourselves, as well as the stupid mistakes we make when we let our emotions guide us.

This is completely predictable but really sweet. And as I read this book, I once again realized how far we've come in young adult fiction, that books like this exist for LGBT youth who might believe that living their truth might leave them branded "abnormal" or dooming them to life alone. The characters in this book behave the way you'd hope people would (and, in many cases, the way people do), and the crises the characters face aren't the typical melodramatic ones of homophobia, violence, and parental rejection, but the crises that many couples, gay or straight, have faced. (There's even a scenario I remember seeing Ross and Rachel deal with on Friends.)

Kudos to Sandy Hall for creating a book that I hope many kids will read, so they realize that living the life they choose is not only possible, it's acceptable.

NetGalley, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, and Swoon Reads provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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