Published by Penguin Group US on 2014-05-15
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, LGBTQ, Love & Romance, Romance, YA, Young Adult
Source: ARC from Edelweiss
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.
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.
I will admit that I went into this book with low expectations. I was expecting a pretty basic lesbian romance. However, I ended up being very pleasantly surprised! I’ve never read a Nina LaCour book before, but I found every element to be spot-on.
I actually started the book without really reading the synopsis because I downloaded a bajillion similar novels in late April and couldn’t remember which one I was reading. The upside of this was that I was surprised by the direction of the story. The downside was that the beginning felt a little muddled to me, and it did take me about 50 pages to get into the story.
Everything Leads to You is the story of Emi as she experiences two great joys in life: professional passion and falling in love. I think this is the reason I truly loved the story. Emi’s job as a set designer, however unrealistic it might actually be for her to have the job, is a really cool job. She’s clearly very talented, and so much of the story focuses on the behind-the-scenes work of making a Hollywood movie. Along the way, Emi solves a mystery (using THE LIBRARY! Win!) and meets a beautiful, yet flawed, girl who takes her breath away. Both passions get equal time in the story, and I greatly appreciated that.
My favorite element of this novel was that it is not a coming out story. Emi is already out. She’s dated a classmate and a coworker. Neither relationship was perfect, and Emi is still recovering from her on-again-off-again romance with Morgan, her coworked on the set. Emi is in love with Morgan, but Morgan is clearly older and not ready to settle down with Emi. Their relationship was complex, moving between avoidance and potential romance and friendship. I think this is pretty common for lesbian relationships, so I was thrilled to see LaCour incorporate the end of that relationship into the story. This is a love story featuring a lesbian protagonist, but it was refreshing to see this as a well-formed identity rather than a new identity for Emi.
And bonus points for Emi’s parents being all-around awesome. They are university professors specializing in pop culture (her dad) and women’s/African American studies (her mom). I completely identified with the parents, and loved that Emi wants to learn about the things her parents study while she’s in college so she can talk to them about those academic topics. High five, Emi. You do that!
As for the romance itself, it was complex and of the slow burn variety. There were times that I wasn’t sure where LaCour was trying to go with the romance — is this ultimately tragedy or romance? The ending of the novel satisfied the jaded version of me who doesn’t think that endings for high school protagonists need to be wrapped up in a tight, perfect, “happily ever after” bow. It ends with more of a loose, happy-for-now bow. Like real life.
FINAL GRADE: A-
This novel feels very close to the New Adult level, but without the focus on sexual content. So if that’s something you are looking for, this might be up your alley. Emi is a recent high school grad living in her brother’s apartment for the summer and working a pretty grown-up job, so those NA pieces are strong. I recommend this book to anyone who want to read about life in LA/Hollywood and working on movie sets, fans of lesbian protagonists, and those who like a good slow-burn romance. Nina LaCour does not disappoint, and I am very glad I stumbled upon this book!