REVIEW: “Been Here All Along,” Sandy Hall
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Title: Been Here All Along
Author: Sandy Hall
Published: July, 2017 by Pan Macmillan
Pages: 224
Rating: ★★½☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

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 neighbour, 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 . . .

Final Thoughts:
With characters so vanilla, I kept wondering why I was reading this. It wasn’t inherently bad, I mean, I got through it in a few lunch breaks, but there was just no meat to it. Occasionally, some issue would arise and get my hopes up that there’d be some drama, something to invest in, but every time an easy out would appear to solve the problem. It seemed like all of the characters were made simply to be likeable, rather than to be real. Sure, it was sort of romantic, watching best friends realise they like each other, but it was just fluff.

With four narrators and only two hundred pages, it goes a bit overboard trying to give them all a look in. Setting them all up with their own issues was a good start, but the short word length resulted in a lot of loose ends. You’re basically only going to see what happens to the main two guys, so if you’re just here for that, you should be fine. Still, why bring in the other perspectives only to leave us hanging? I invested a few days in this book and don’t feel like it paid off. I don’t need all the answers, but I didn’t need all of the questions either.

With the characters spending a lot of time at high school (and all of the point of view switching), reading this felt like watching a bland teen drama. It’s hard to think back on this book and actually remember anything happening. There are a few coming out scenes with pass by mostly with nonchalance (which I thought of as one of the book’s better points), but other than that it’s just relationship issues and a few crossed wires. Even the blackmail plot, which piqued my interest for a second, fell flat. Again, it felt like the characters just didn’t want to be seen a mean. Evil characters are fun. Characters with personality are fun.

There were some nice, fun scenes with the guys wondering how to move from friends to boyfriends, but beyond that, I had little interest in this book. If the characters were straight I probably wouldn’t have stood for this kind of non-event storytelling. The little bit of angst towards the end wasn’t enough to make up for the lack of depth I’d endured to that point. Still, I gave it go, and didn’t hate reading it. I’ve read worse. In the search for more LGBT inclusive YA, I’m finding some hits and some misses. This one, unfortunately, struck out.

If you’re after a fluffy, ‘friends fall in love’ story, with minimal angst, this is for you.