Friday, August 26, 2016

BEEN HERE ALL ALONG BY SANDY HALL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall. Thanks so much to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.


This was a quick little cute romance between two neighbours who have known each other since they were five years old and finally realize that their friendship is more than just platonic.

While I didn't love every aspect of this book, I did enjoy it and read it pretty quickly, in about an hour and a half.

We have four different perspectives telling the story throughout the book, Gideon; who is just discovering he is gay, Kyle; who just came out to his girlfriend as bisexual, Ruby; who's life is falling apart and has just found out her boyfriend is not who she thought he was, and Ezra; Gideon's older brother who adds a little extra insight to the storyline. For the most part, the perspectives were easy enough to tell who was who, but there were a couple of times, especially with Gideon and Kyle, where I had to go back and check to see who was telling the story because they sounded different. Ezra sounded different because he was in a different situation than the others, older, with regrets, back living at home, etc. and you could tell it was Ruby because of her family and friends. Kyle and Gideon both had loving parents and siblings. Their worlds were similar, and therefore their perspectives were harder to differentiate.

The major conflict in this story is that in Gideon's attempt to decipher if he is gay or, as he puts it, "Kyle-sexual," he creates a series of lists, including a list of things he likes about Kyle, and things he thinks are wrong with Kyle. One day when they are all hanging out together, Ruby discovers these lists, and takes photos of them, to look over later, or possibly even blackmail Gideon with.

While it's pretty clear the romance is working out, the main concern is whether or not Ruby will do something malicious with the lists. She keeps saying she will delete the photos, but then she doesn't. At the same time, she seems like a fairly decent individual, who wouldn't send them around.

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't love it. I felt like the whole conflict with Ruby and the lists was unnecessary, it created a weird climax that wasn't really needed, and I felt it took away from the romance itself.

This book was a very, very light read. There are hints of socio-economic conflict, but those are never really flushed out, as well as other academic concerns that just kind of get thrown to the wayside. Ezra comes home unexpectedly, and no one really wonders why he's there. I think there are just a lot of loose ends that don't necessarily need to be there, just to beef up the story a little bit. It was a quick read, but I feel like some of these plot lines could have been a little more fleshed out, especially with Ezra. While he wasn't he main character, and he didn't prove to be too important in the story itself, I really enjoyed his character, and would definitely love a spin-off book on him.

I mean, this was a sweet, adorable story, and maybe if that is what you are looking for, this is the book for you, but I would have preferred something a little deeper. Ever the major issue gets resolved pretty quickly.

I also didn't think this book did spectacular with the whole sexuality situation. Gideon comes out to his parents and they are ecstatic, only one person at school vocalizes their dislike for their relationship and sexual preferences. I mean, there was a lot of positive reinforcement, Ruby didn't really care when Kyle came out as bi, the supporting characters see sexuality as something that isn't their business, but there isn't much negativity. And I'm not saying there should be, I'm just not sure it would be super realistic. I absolutely think we need to be at the point where a persons sexuality is no ones business but their own, but this book makes it look like they are in a magical land of acceptance and support. Maybe I'm just a cynic, but life's not that easy. It should be, but it's not.

Overall, this was a good book. I got through it. But, unfortunately, I'm not running out to preorder it anytime soon.