Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 15th 2014
Format: Paperback (I own)
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Page Count: 312 pages
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.
Some of my 1st thoughts reading Everything Leads to You, were that Nina LaCour hit the nail on the head when it comes to toxic relationships. During the first few pages, we get introduced to Emi who is attempting to put a stop to the break-ups & make-ups between her & her slightly older girlfriend Morgan. Morgan is attracted to Emi & suggests an open relationship whereas Emi is in love with Morgan. Things are made a bit more difficult seeing as they both are working on the same film production. Emi is an aspiring set designer & Morgan is a bit more established constructing sets. Very early on Emi decides that this 6th time is the last time & the following quote stuck with me because as someone who has been in a similar situation many years ago, I can relate…
“When you love someone, you are sure. You don’t need time to decide. You don’t say stop and start over and over, like you’re playing some kind of sport. You know the immensity of what you have and you protect it.”
This quote really made me think…is this always true? I can honestly say that I’ve been in Emi’s shoes & in the moment didn’t understand that it is possible to love someone more than they actually love you (I was also very young). In Emi’s situation, I definitely can see how this quote applies. Morgan was clearly not on the same page which led to toxic behavior. I’ve also been in Morgan’s shoes, and chose to let that person go because I wasn’t ready. Emi setting out to move on from Morgan sets the stage for the rest of the book.
Detaching herself from Morgan was made easier by the AMAZING friendship Emi has with Charlotte, who also happens to be working on the same movie. Charlotte is the art department assistant and aspiring museum curator. We get to follow Emi & Charlotte around all of L.A. as they shop around for vintage furniture, art, and props to be used in the film. I don’t think we get enough female friendships in books so this was like a breath of fresh air. I loved Charlotte’s loyalty & fierce protectiveness over Emi.
It was during one of Emi & Charlotte’s set shopping excursions that they come across an estate sale for a deceased big time Hollywood movie star. They also happened to have purchased a record which contained a note that would lead them on the hunt for answers. So Emi & Charlotte juggle life on the set of a major film & amateur detective work…I don’t even know if you would call it amateur, they were pretty darn good at it lol. Now from here on out, I’m going to get spoilery because I just have way too many feels after reading the last page…
*************************************Spoilers Lay Ahead, Beware of the Spoiler******************
Emi’s decision to investigate the note she found in the record they purchased at the estate, to me felt like a much needed distraction. All throughout the story as they hunt for answers, Emi continues to express her feelings that she is meant to be looking for these answers. The possibility of something greater awaits her at the end of this search. The note was left behind by an A list movie actor who had a one-night stand & as a result an estranged daughter. In his note he expresses his loss for words on their one-time coffee date. A father faced with his adult daughter and her child, his grandbaby. In the note he leaves info for his daughter Caroline to claim her inheritance, the only problem is that Caroline is deceased as well. FAST FORWARD……That grandbaby has all grown UP! Her name is Ava & the dynamic duo that are Emi & Charlotte have managed to track her down. Ava is homeless & living in a shelter after she decided to leave her adoptive mother’s home. Ava has only one best friend in the shelter whose name is Jamal & he is just as loyal and protective as Charlotte is over Emi. Once the trail leads to Ava, Emi is instantly attracted to her. No, it’s not instalove. One of the things that I loved about Emi is that she is confident & comfortable in her own skin. The fact that she likes girls was not made to be this huge reveal which I appreciated. So many things were well done with this story that I can talk about for hours but instead I’ll name a few:
- The inside look to film production—the behind the scenes look.
- Emi’s journey with learning the ropes of a career in set design—you start from the bottom & work your way up and sometimes that means not always getting your way. Seeing Emi struggle with this lesson was very relatable.
- The vivid details given to describe how Emi envisions her ideas & makes them come to life on set.
- The realistic approach taken when filming an independent film vs. a major film production.
- Again, the fact that Emi’s sexuality wasn’t center stage to the storyline.
- Female friendships…I need a Charlotte in my life lol.
- AMAZING parents—Emi’s parents seriously have to be the coolest with their shared bond of West Coast Gangster rap lol.
- The representation of financial diversity—Emi/Charlotte are well off compared to Ava and her best friend Jamal. A discussion is had btwn Jamal, Emi, & Charlotte where he points out that although Emi’s parents are cool & received degrees for studying and being well versed in hip hop culture…he has lived the life they have studied & it wasn’t fascinating, but scary.
The only reason why I docked this half a star was because I think this would’ve been EPIC as New Adult vs. YA Fiction. I can understand how some found the way things came to be as a bit unrealistic however, I got so much from this story that I didn’t judge it by how real their quest for answers felt. Overall, I loved the writing style & the friendships in this book. It was an enjoyable read with many smile worthy moments including THAT LAST LINE!!! Looking forward to reading more of Nina LaCour’s books.