Published by Dutton Juvenile on 15th May 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.I'd been waiting for Nina LaCour to write a romance with two girls since I read Hold Still back when it came out (and loved it), so I did a happy dance when I first heard about Everything Leads to You and saw its gorgeous cover and intriguing blurb. But guess what? It turns out that the romance wasn't the best thing about this book. In fact, I was possibly a little disappointed by the romance, but more on that later. Why did I like this book so much? Because Emi's world, the world of set design, was simply enchanting.
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.
Emi, who lives in LA and works as an intern in set design, discovers a letter left behind by Clyde Jones, Hollywood film star and Western icon, after his death. In trying to deliver the letter to its addressee, Emi stumbles upon something of a mystery and encounters difficulty after difficulty. Along the way, she meets Ava and falls in love.
Emi was delightful. I loved her passion for her work, I loved everything she did in this book. I just really enjoyed spending time living her life with her, and getting to know her and learning about set design. I guess it's really rare in a YA book that you really get to see a character doing an interesting job in detail, not just some quick descriptions of the fast food joint they work at, and of course that's understandable and true to life. But I mean, I'm sure there are some teens out there who get to do some more interesting internships too! I'd be happy to read stories about them.
I just loved how much time the book spent on describing what sort of things she did for work. What decisions she made, and what mistakes she made, how she grabbed hold of the opportunities offered to her and how she grew as a set designer over the course of the book. It was all just so fascinating and I'm sure I'll pay more attention to the set the next time I watch a film now that I have more of an understanding of how much work goes into everything you see in the background.
Emi's family was so interesting too! Her brother also works in the world of film as a location manager, and her parents are both professors; her mother is a professor of Gender Studies and Black Studies, and her dad is a professor of pop culture. Everyone is super cool. I would have loved to see even more of her family. Emi's best friend, Charlotte, was also lovely and so supportive of her and also super competent as she helps Emi both at work and in her personal life.
As for the romance part of the book, well... Emi breaks up with her girlfriend, Morgan, at the beginning at the book, whom she claims to love a lot, but she seems to get over Morgan remarkably quickly, which bugged me a little bit. Like, there was one night of sadness and suddenly she seemed to be pretty much completely fine. I don't know, I just think maybe that was a little unrealistic? Partly because of this, the romance between Ava and Emi was not wholly convincing to me, because Emi just seems to fall for Ava so fast and so soon after Morgan.
But I very much appreciated the fact that we got a book about two girls falling in love that wasn't about the girls struggling to come to terms with their own sexuality or with coming out, and where both girls had been with other girls before. As much as I think Emi moved on a bit hastily, I'm still always happy to see YA books that deal with break-ups that involve real heartbreak.
I liked Ava, and I liked her backstory, but personally she just never seemed as real to me as Emi did. She comes to Emi as an enigma, and I feel like she kind of still remains one even at the end of the book, though the book tries to tell me otherwise. I think part of this could also be because this book felt a little too short. Everything came together a bit too quickly at the end. I felt like this book could have been at least 100 pages longer, so that Ava and Emi's romance could develop at a more natural pace and come to life more.
Still, I was utterly drawn into Emi's world and I was enthralled by this book even if the romance wasn't as magical as it could have been for me. The writing was just so easy to sink into. I do hope LaCour writes more stories about girls falling in love!