Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour | Rating: ★★★★★
The best things aren't perfectly constructed. They aren't illusions. they aren't larger than life. They are life.
This year I’ve been attempting to read a bit more contemporary romance novels in the young adult genre but very little has captured my attention for the long term. Nina LaCour’s 2014 release Everything Leads to You is one of the few that gave me the warm and fuzzies and made me feel as though I were falling in love for the first time.
You’ve probably heard the buzz about this little gem by now.
Impossibly charming and sweet, and honest, Everything Leads to You will be an easy love for fans of David Levithan, Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins. Full of so much heart, it is crafted beautifully and is the next light read you should be picking up.
Set in the beautiful state of California, and full of film references and fun, readers are introduced to our narrator: Emi Price. Emi is gentle and fun and oh-so-real that it’s impossible to not love her instantly. I grew very attached to her in the span of the novel and wanted nothing but the best for her.
Emi has just finished up high school and is settling into her role as an up-and-coming set designer. Emi has been a film buff for as long as she can remember and has a thoughtful and authentic approach to her craft that is wise beyond her years. She can expect great things and plenty of opportunity in her future and I like that she has all these plans for herself at her age.
As a graduation present from her older brother, Emi moves into his apartment while he is out of the country and promises to make the most of her summer. I only wish we had seen more of him because their sibling bond was very, very sweet in the moments we did see him.
Emi’s best friend, Charlotte Young, joins her in this chapter and together the two balance work; the upcoming changes of their lives. All the while trying to find something magical for their summer. I liked Emi and Charlotte’s friendship quite a bit and it’s easy to see why they’ve remained close for so many years.
They are genuinely supportive of each other and it’s all very sweet. I liked that they looked out for each other in all aspects of their lives and really, really enjoyed getting to know them.
Their summer so far is filled with boding time and work. Emi also spends a great deal of time avoiding and daydreaming about her ex-girlfriend, Morgan, who is as fickle as they can come. Gradually she settles into the idea that Morgan never really loved her and that all though Morgan was Emi’s first love, it was time to move on.
Even though they don’t work together as a couple, they make a good team professionally and due to Morgan’s recommendation, Emi will soon get herself another gig as a set designer for a minor budget film.
As for Charlotte, she is preparing for a move to university and trying to find a way to embrace her feelings towards Emi’s brother. I wish we saw more of Charlotte.
After a mysterious discovery in a Patsy Cline record Charlotte found at the estate of a fictional iconic Hollywood actor who recently passed away, the girls set off to find the unknown woman it was addressed to and find themselves lost in the mystery of it all. Especially Emi, who at first views this quest as something romantic and tragic and doesn’t seem to grasp that it is someone’s real life.
That isn’t a bad thing because it does provide character growth and leads a tone to the coming of age story.
Emi and Charlotte search high and low only to find that the woman the letter was addressed to has been dead since 1995. Because of this, they open the letter and read what it has to say; finding surprising turns they’d never expected and further developing this mystery.
Now, they have something new to go off on. A name. His granddaughter.
Enter Ava Wilder. Ava is the teenage daughter of the subject of their mysterious letter. She is unknowingly the descendant of an icon Hollywood actor and this letter unravels a lot more of her life. For the first time in her life, she is able to go on with more self discovery and find out where she came from.
And with Emi and Charlotte’s help, there is plenty to discover. I liked their friendship quite a lot because it all developed so quickly and unexpectedly but it was almost like they all knew each other all their lives. It was great and I just enjoyed seeing that caring nature. Ava’s best friend, Jamal, gets in on it to and I do think that these four made such a strong connection that they would be life long friends.
Because Ava has had an unfortunate turn of events in her life and is homeless due to a rift between herself and her adoptive mother, there is a lot of tension and drama. Emi finds Ava to be intriguing, beautiful and wonderful–all the things that make someone attractive to you on first glance.
Emi learns a lot about herself and the way she grows from the start to the end is just a delight to see. It’s reminiscent to the tone that people are just people at the end of the day and I think that message was more than important to portray.
And with Ava, well, we learn so much about her, about her mother and about both pasts. It’s all very realistic, raw and well thought out. I couldn’t look away from it because like Emi, I was completely captivating by Ava.
It was so much more than that: Ava could easily be the object of your affection, your best friend, your sister or yourself. There’s something relatable about her and so wonderful.
Emi and Ava’s relationship is nice, too. It grows from Emi viewing Ava as a tragic, glamorous story into something more. I liked seeing it develop and there’s something incredibly warm to it. They are one of those couples where you’re just like waiting, anticipating, their big kiss and praying that they get a happily ever after.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I liked the backdrop of the summer and California and the film making process.
I loved Emi’s passion. I loved that we got to see her living a dream life but still staying down to earth. I liked seeing Ava’s life improve as she is able to move on her own and go from living in a shelter to living in a home of her own. Seeing Ava get her first role in a film was magical and I wish that it was a real movie so we could watch it.
I liked seeing Charlotte get the guy and grinned ear to ear when she and Emi both took chances. I liked seeing connections grow and stay intact. I liked the sense of hope and realistic topics. I liked Jamal’s optimism and truth and how he wanted to do things on his own.
Mostly I just loved this book. Everything Leads to You is everything that a romance should be: honest, sweet and fun. There’s no shortage of teenage angst but it isn’t overwhelming. It is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time and if I could buy everyone a copy, I would.
Nina LaCour has my heart at this point and I think this novel will remain a favorite of mine until the day I die. There’s just so much soul to this one that it’s something you have to read to experience. Everything Leads to You is one of the best young adult novels I've ever read and is filled with colorful and diverse characters, you won't regret picking t up.