Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (Penguin)
Release Date: May 15th, 2014
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Penguin's First to Read program. This did not affect my review in any way; all thoughts below are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
"This was a wonderful, subtle, quiet, beautiful book about friendship, life, relationships, film, and so much more."
Wow. This book. I was expecting it to be great, and it delivered. I want to start off with the cover. After reading the book, I love the cover even more. It's not that it represents a lot, but I think it completely encapsulates the tone and feeling of the book. There's a subtle beauty to both, and it's the kind that hits you after the fact.
One of the major aspects of the book that I absolutely loved was that it's an LGBT story, but it's not a coming out story. The characters are accepted for who they are, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that's so refreshing to read. Yeah, there are lesbians; yeah, there are straight girls. They're both awesome. It's basically like that. As I said, it's refreshing, and I love how it's taken at face value. It's so rare to that in literature today, particularly YA fiction, and I'm so glad that it takes a secondary role here, though it allows for a beautiful, complicated relationship to blossom.
Speaking of relationship, there are a couple of different types of relationships that take a central role in the novel, the first of which is the obvious romantic relationship. I don't say obvious in that the romance was obvious but in that many/most novels have some romance in it. What I love about the romance in Everything Leads to You is that it's a slow burning romance. While that makes it a slow moving story at times, it also fits the characters completely. It makes sense that both are cautious about getting into a relationship. It's a kind of romance that you don't see often in a book but that is so common in real life as events and our past get in the way. The romance feels so real, and I love how the two of them came together.
The second relationship is the friendship between Emi and Charlotte. It's just such a pure friendship. They're always there for one another and are supportive of one another's careers. This is the kind of friendship I would want. Charlotte wants Emi to be in a healthy relationship, and I love that too. The friendship between Ava and Jamal was also great, but there was a very different dynamic in their friendship than the friendship between Emi and Charlotte. Ava and Jamal lead a very different, harsher life than Emi and Charlotte, and I think the four characters together bring different backgrounds and dynamics together, and they affect one another in an amazing way that I can't really put into words.
Another relationship would be the familial relationship within Emi's family, as well as Ava's. Although we don't know or see much of Emi's family, you can get the sense of their relationship and utter support for one another. This is sharply contrasted by Ava's complicated, messy family life. But what's also beautiful and amazing about it is that it also redefines what family means. Ava decides who to call family, and that's what I think it so impactful.
Finally, there's the relationship with film and the film industry, which is such a huge part of the characters and the book itself. As a TV and movie fanatic, this obviously attracted me. But I love how it shows the conflict between the characters and the industry and others in the crew of a movie. Often, we forget about the behind-the-scenes people such as the set producer/designer, and this gave a rare tiny glimpse into what it's like. It's not just glitz and glamour, but the story is also set far enough away from the industry that it isn't filled with industry drama, as many books about movie stars are.
I also really love LaCour's writing. I've never read any of her books before, but there's a quiet beauty. It's not that the writing is complex or necessarily beautiful, but it flows and it fits the characters and tone so well. But speaking of that, the book is really soft and subtle to the point where there's often a lull in the story. I mean, that's normal in life, right? Yup. But there were times when I just didn't feel like picking up the book and reading. There were dull moments, and I felt that even the climax was a bit muffled, if you know what I mean.
One other aspect that bothered me was that there were times when Emi's irritated me a bit. When I say there were a few times, I literally mean one or two small portions. At first, the way she talked to/about Ava bothered me because it really did feel like she just saw her as Clyde Jones' granddaughter. She thought that everyone would like Ava and do what Ava wanted because of who her grandfather was, but Emi didn't credit it to Ava herself. I believe Ava did point this out, and I think that by the end, Emi came to realize this and she changed her perception, which was a great transformation.
Another great transformation was how she (Emi) viewed her work. Before, she thought she knew everything. The room she set up was perfect until the set designer messed it up by choosing a different couch. She thought she had the perfect flower pictures for the film set, but she was told it wouldn't work. And she realizes, with the help of Morgan, her ex-girlfriend, how true this is. I just think that she (and Ava) has such a great learning arc throughout this book. Not only does Emi change in her perception of her work and of set designing, she also learns to look at people in a different light, and it just came together so well.
All in all, this was a wonderful, subtle, quiet, beautiful book about friendship, life, relationships, film, and so much more. Despite the lull in the plot at times, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it.