Title: Everything Leads to You
Author: Nina LaCour
Genre: Romance, YA
Publication Date: May 12th 2014
Summary: “I want you to do something with the place. Something epic.”
Emi has been entrusted with her brother’s Los Angeles apartment for the summer as a graduation gift, but she isn’t sure how to fulfil his one condition: that something great take place there while he’s gone. She may be a talented young production designer, already beginning to thrive in the competitive film industry, but she still feels like an average teen, floundering when it comes to romance.
But when Emi and her friend Charlotte discover a mysterious letter at the estate sale of a Hollywood film legend, Emi finds herself chasing down the loose ends of a movie icon’s hidden life. The search leads her to uncover a decades-old secret and the potential for something truly epic: love.
I adore this book, I honestly do. It took me a couple of months to get through but this wasn’t because I didn’t get into it but because I was trying to co-read it with my girlfriend (co-reading is easier said than done) so we were trying to stay in sync with the chapters which was a difficult task!
In this book, we follow Emi, a young, bright production design intern who is in a struggling relationship. Along with her best friend, Charlotte, she discovers a strange letter and they try to deliver it, discovering various clues and leads along the way. Not only is this mystery unfolding, but Emi is also involved with a new film project, an exciting opportunity for her career. Of course, there’s also the romance between Emi and Ava (I don’t want to spoil too much!) and though it’s obvious something will happen between them, Ava’s storyline is far from predictable.
So as someone who identifies as bisexual and has a girlfriend and has a passion for films and filmmaking, you could say the premise of this book is pretty wonderful to me!
I did read the summary of the book so I knew the general idea but I mainly wanted to read it because I loved You Know Me Well, written by Nina LaCour and David Levithan. I also saw LaCour speak at YALC over the summer, where she mentioned Everything Leads to You as a positive, happy representation of a lesbian relationship. Considering it’s difficult to find both positive AND happy representations of any LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, I definitely wanted to read it.
Representation has always been something which I find important but I’ll be honest and say I didn’t realise how important positive representations are until reading this. I make a habit of trying to see films and read books which include an array of characters from different backgrounds and with different identities. But this really made me feel something, probably because I was able to see a relationship which I could identify with!
The story itself is magical. You at first feel like you’ve guessed what’s going to happen but realise you’re a mere third of the way through the book and there’s way more to the plot than there seems to be. The look into Emi and Charlotte’s lives and jobs (as well as other characters too) was really three dimensional and I never felt like the plot was thin in any area. Everything was detailed and felt real, from the intricacies of Emi’s job (the film nerd in me found all the references and metaphors comparing things to films ridiculously exciting) to the description of her family home. The writing really made everything and everyone feel realistic, even with the backdrops of film studios!
In any sort of story, the aspects I look for most are character development and three dimensional characters. The characters in Everything Leads To You are flawed. They have wonderful personalities and interests but my main love for them comes from the fact they are flawed in such a realistic way.
Emi can be pushy if she wants something from someone – not always a bad trait, however it can sometimes become negative. Without spoiling too much, she tries to push Ava into stardom and telling everybody her secret, even though it’s quite clear Ava doesn’t want that. Emi also struggles with comprehending a life that is not similar to her own. When Jamal brings up her privileged upbringing, she is embarrassed and doesn’t like to admit it but it has to be said and she begins to accept that and learn from it. Jamal and Charlotte are my personal favourite characters as they are such true and loyal friends but also have such individual personalities and goals of their own (something often lacking in the writing of the protagonist’s friends).
The most inspiring thing about this book is that LaCour wrote it because she realised how important it is for young people who identify as LGBTQ+ to have stories which represent their love positively. Sure, stories about coming out and the difficulties surrounding it or surrounding identity in general can be helpful, but with so much negativity around, a cheery, cute story is so needed and welcomed.
Nina LaCour’s new book We Are Okay is released today! I’m definitely ordering myself a copy as soon as I can!