Here the Whole Time

Scholastic. Nov. 2020. 288p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338620825.
Gr 9 Up–At 17, Felipe, who enjoys living with his single, artsy, and understanding mom in an apartment complex, is comfortable with being gay. However, he’s uncomfortable with being fat and feeling too vulnerable to others’ judgments. Then Caio, a more outgoing boy from a neighboring apartment, is sent by his own overprotective mother, who is going away for a 15-day vacation, to stay under Felipe’s mom’s care. Felipe and Caio interact socially for the first time in years, though as kids they happily played mermaids together in the complex pool. Brazilian author Martins pulls readers quickly into the story as it unfolds from Felipe’s shy and introverted viewpoint, making both boys, the friends Caio introduces to Felipe, Felipe’s mother, and every other character—from children to bullying teens to Felipe’s therapist—realistic and compelling. Scenes and actions flow organically in Martins’s empathetic prose and Helena’s lovely translation. Both Felipe and Caio confront fears, in large part through the kind interventions of each other. All characters are Brazilian, and two characters are Black.
VERDICT This LGBTQ–themed story with a soul that goes well beyond exploring queer identity will delight teen readers of realistic fiction.

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