Book Review: “This Never Happened Somewhere”

…until I read the book, and then it happened for me.

As an activist, I’ve fought really hard against teaching anything to do with fidelity groups. Why? Because they are extremely hard to do from any angle.

Monogamy is your standard, cookie cutter, rather banal fidelity group.

Hook it up, slap on some rings, clothes the curtains… and get… sleepy!

I joke, but writing on monogamy has got to be one of the most boring, repetitive jobs that most sex advice columnists must speak about. It’s why 99% of articles are on NEW and SPICE IT UP!

New sexual positions, new toys, new communication methods, spicing up that “old” romance with date nights.

And in all actuality, this is usually great advice. Those who do that work truly do a saint’s job. And we certainly benefit from it as well in nonmonogamy! We don’t throw away relationships as though they came with an expiration date.

As much as we talk about ideas of leaving when the time has come, we don’t just jump ship when we hit a few waves, we try very hard to make the best of our current situations and partners.

But PolyFidelity, that’s an entirely different boat, on a different ocean, on another planet from what most of us know.

PolyFidelity is the closing of a group, which can be a couple, a triad, a quad, or even more. And in “This Never Happened Somewhere”, we meet a PolyFidelity group of five.

Feeling the grit of the lives of the characters and Bourbon Street, we’re launched into a story I can only compare to two books of self discovery. The first is the internal self exploration of the cult classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The other is the feeling of disaster ready to fall at any moment in Catcher in the Rye.

But unlike Holden Caulfield, we learn quickly that starting with Tamra, this is a not the 80s teen exploration of depression and loss. This is a true Millennial exploration of ADHD, drug use, a service economy, and just trying to make home wherever we land.

The book paddles on the surface for a bit with the characters before allowing the reader to slowly test deeper waters, revealing flaws, fears, and a jaded view of redemption that is at once shocking and endearing.

Author Ryan Starbloak likes to toy with us, mixing slight inconveniences and spats with seemingly permanent emotional scars. Time and circumstance around the characters start penetrating our own empathy like dripping water torture, but the book itself moves quickly.

As promised, the core of the book is a PolyFidelity group of five people, with very distinct personalities and views of themselves, of each other, of each relationship, and of the group as a whole. The group includes multiple sexual orientations, races, hometowns, and goals which provides one of the most unconventional looks at fidelity that I’ve seen portrayed in any story.

Starbloak surprised me with his ability to show both committed cohesion and dramatic character distinction that anyone from an outside view might see as an impossible situation. But his polyamory creds are true to form, both in how such groups can form and in how they operate under stress. We see people brought to their breaking points in many situations, and learn how the group, the individuals, and the relationships respond.

This is not your “Facebook Poly Super Friends Group”. This is a raw, organic group that figured this out on their own as they went along, forming things as they came up, making things up as they go along in the midst of strong personalities and prominent mistakes.

Hustling, scraping, striving, seeking to recover the past, and jumping head first and eyes closed into an unknown future, “This Never Happened Somewhere” is a book that delivers all the way until the end.

And I’ve done my absolute best to keep any hint of that ending out of this review. You’ll just have to find out for yourself.

You can purchase the book on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback at https://amzn.com/B01J6IPDG2

Be sure to check out my interview with Ryan Starbloak on my Facebook Page, http://facebook.com/polyamoryinc.

DeWayne Lehman