What Happens When Best Friends Date? ‘Been Here All Along’ by Sandy Hall

Been Here All Along by Sandy HallTold from four different perspectives, Been Here All Along is a sweet story of long-time friends, first-time love, and the freedom of honesty.

Kyle and Gideon are best friends. With their nerdy in-jokes and love of communicating in Elvish, the next-door neighbors have been inseparable since they were five years old. Gideon is AP smart, and Kyle has grown into a basketball powerhouse. And even though Kyle dates the head cheerleader, Ruby, he always makes time for Gideon.

Kyle came out as a bisexual to his close friends and family a long time ago, but wants to tell Ruby since they have been dating now for six months. Then, during a school dance, as Gideon sees Ruby and Kyle fighting, he doesn’t understand why it makes him want to laugh. Why is he happy? He likes Ruby just fine, so he is completed caught off guard by his response. He goes home, but he can’t sleep. Is Gideon gay, or does he just have an attraction for Kyle? The only way for him to figure this out is to get organized and make some lists and charts.

So that was when the first warning bell went off. When situations like this come up (sexuality/school/writing something down), I am already thinking of different scenarios in my mind. Hopefully, without giving too much away (because you know someone is going to see what Gideon has written), I can say what pleased me about this story was that the sexuality of the two main male characters wasn’t the issue; this could just as easily have been a male/female relationship. However, it was clear that the book was still written in the day and age that we live in, so the fact that it was two boys wasn’t glossed over or ignored, either.

For as open as the characters are about their sexuality, that doesn’t mean everything gets shared as easily. Ruby could have been written as an unsympathetic character, but because you know her backstory (and current story), you can see why she reacts the way she does to the different roadblocks and events in her life.

The three main characters get all of the development; the parents are rather two-dimensional and a little Leave It to Beaver-y. And Gideon’s brother Ezra, who should have had more depth due to the fact that 1) he was one of the book’s storytellers and 2) because of the reason he has returned home (and why he left in the first place), should have added more punch to the narrative.

While the issues are real and thoughtfully written, they did seem to get resolved relatively easily. There wasn’t tons of drama for drama’s sake which can be refreshing. I think that’s why I liked this novel; it surprised me in the direction it went and was entertaining along the way.

Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall will be published August 30, 2016 by Swoon Reads. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to the Publisher and the Author.

Rating: 4

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary Romance LGBTQA+
Ages: 13 and up

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