The only reason I can’t say I read Everything Leads to You in one sitting is that my spouse will be home in a half hour so I had to put the chicken in the oven. (Yes, my Ashkenazi is showing.) This is the kind of wonderful book that I read greedily, simultaneously ecstatic that it exists and bitter that I can never really go back and fix the fact that it didn’t when I was 16 and fairly isolated in my girl-liking. Emi’s liking girls is so normalized in this book. I’m jealous! But at the heart, I’m truly happy that no more generations of little girls will ever have to live their adolescence in a world without books like this.
It has a really interesting plot and setting — the lead, Emi, works in set design out in Hollywood, and she goes to an estate sale with her best friend to look for fun stuff to use in movie sets. Instead, the two of them find A MYSTERIOUS LETTER, of the good old fashioned family secrets kind, and they go on a quest to fulfill the wishes of the dead movie star who wrote it. Isn’t that neat? Honestly, if other people’s posts about this book had mentioned a plot like this I feel like I would have picked it up earlier.
Someone told me only this past weekend that one of the things they liked about my Mango book is that the two lead girls don’t form the f/f couple. Well, if you like your f/f to have a side of very well-rounded platonic friendship, this book will make you happy, too. Both of the girls in “the couple” (because yes, there’s a happy f/f ending; I consider those kinds of spoilers necessary and healthy in a world where many, many books and movies don’t give that to us) have solid best-friendships that I could believe in. So people whose answer to femslash is “you’re devaluing friendship!” can just stuff it. WE have friends, TOO, and this book shows both kinds of relationship coexisting seamlessly.
I’m going to try to say this in a non-spoilery way, but: toward the end, the love interest’s best friend doles out a speech that was perfect, right on time, and right on target. I was cheering for him while feeling a lot of other things very deeply.
By the way, the heroine is biracial, if that makes you want to read the book more. I’m mentioning it here since it takes half the book to get to that part, and since the cover most likely shows the white love interest. The heroine also has two loving, pretty neat parents, for anyone who’s looking for that in a YA.
Edited to add something I forgot: Emi talking about how movies are filmed out of order so sometimes you end up filming the happy ending first. That way, you wind up enjoying the pain of the sad or upsetting parts:
You already know that everything will turn out okay, so when it’s time for the earlier, harrowing scenes, you can get swept up in them safely. You can let them wreck you and allow the wrecking to feel good.
So, this is meaningful for me because I totally catch myself doing this with my own characters. I can enjoy a certain painful period in their past because I know everything works out, and I’ve written three books past the painful part. Anyway, I’d never seen it so perfectly described. Well done :)