Author: Sandy Hall
Source: ARC via NetGalley
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.
Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…
Been Here All Along is a cute book. It's syrupy and sweet and ends exactly how you expect. Which, for me, also made it pretty boring.
Kyle and Gideon are next door neighbors and best friends since infancy. The dual POVs as Kyle comes to terms with his sexuality and they fall for each other are perfectly lovely. There's a subplot regarding Gideon's undiagnosed learning disability that's handled very tactfully. Their families are ultra supportive and neither faces ostracization at school for liking boys. The big misunderstanding comes relatively late in the story and it's resolved fairly quickly, if a little pat. It's a nice enough bit of fluff, but I have issues with the writing.
First, the four POVs are unnecessary. In addition to Kyle and Gideon, Gideon's brother Ezra and Kyle's girlfriend Ruby are also POV characters. Ezra is especially underdeveloped and seems to only exist in a deus ex machina sort of way, driving a frequently stalled plot forward. He's also Ruby's last minute reward for not being the worst person in history. Ruby's a cheerleader who focuses a lot on how people perceive her. She puts up a facade to hide the fact that her family is going though some serious financial shit and she's probably not going to college after all. She's shown to have a lot of remorse afterwards, but continually does mean girl things to drive Kyle and Gideon apart. So when it comes time for her to usher in the conflict, Hall can't pull the trigger. Wanting to protect Ruby's redemption, she has her faceless mean girl friends do it instead, setting Ruby up as a victim in a situation of her own making. It feels lazy.
I also found the three male POVs to blend together. The voices aren't distinct at all, which is pretty impressive considering they're a 20something surfer, a type A nerd, and a sensitive basketballer. It's a good thing Gideon and Kyle thing about each other so often, or I'd have had to flip back to the chapter header every time I took my eyes off the page for a single second.
We need LGBT+ books with happy endings. LGBT+ books with positive gay and bi rep. LGBT+ books where no one dies. And Been Here All Along definitely fits that mold and will hopefully mean a lot to someone, but with other authors like Dahlia Adler publishing LGBT+ books that are positive and well written? This one's not for me.