Always the Almost is a heartfelt book about love and embracing ourselves. I have nothing but love for this debut which entirely pulled at my heartstrings. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Miles Jacobson has two New Year’s resolutions: 1) win back his ex-boyfriend (and star of the football team) Shane McIntyre, and 2) finally beat his slimy arch-nemesis at the Midwest’s biggest classical piano competition. But that’s not going to be so easy. For one thing, Shane broke up with Miles two weeks after Miles came out as trans, and now Shane’s stubbornly ignoring him, even when they literally bump into each other. Plus, Miles’ new, slightly terrifying piano teacher keeps telling him that he’s playing like he “doesn’t know who he is”—whatever that means.
Then Miles meets the new boy in town, Eric Mendez, a proudly queer cartoonist from Seattle who asks his pronouns, cares about art as much as he does—and makes his stomach flutter. Not what he needs to be focusing on right now. But after Eric and Miles pretend to date so they can score an invite to a couples-only Valentine’s party, the ruse turns real with a kiss, which is also definitely not in the plan. If only Miles could figure out why Eric likes him so much. After all, it’s not like he’s cool or confident or comfortable in his own skin. He’s not even good enough at piano to get his fellow competitors to respect him, especially now, as Miles. Nothing’s ever been as easy for him as for other people—other boys. He’s only ever been almost enough.
So why, when he’s with Eric, does it feel like the only person he’s ever really not been enough for…is himself?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: transphobia, deadnaming, misgendering, homophobia
Always the Almost is a story about feeling like we’re always one step away. A step away from being the love, being the chosen one, the winner. Almost good enough, almost the person we are meant to be. From that premise alone, I was smitten. It’s this universal feeling. This heartbreak, this yearning, this feeling of loneliness. But what Underhill does is delivers a story about love and joy. It’s not just a love story, it’s also a story about embracing ourselves.
Realizing that coming out or putting words to our feelings sometimes is just a part of the journey. That we have these feelings of joy. Of being able to embrace the kernel of who we are. We can choose this feeling. We can find spaces, seek out friendships, and people who will see us. For Eric, he embarks on a journey to figure out how to embrace who he is. To accept and wholeheartedly make space for the people in our lives who accept us.
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Always the Almost is full of character. Of people choose how to see our actions, what impact we will make, and what our words are worth. Find Always the Almost on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, Bookshop.org, & Blackwells.