“I want you to do something with the place. Something epic.”
After being entrusted with her brother’s Los Angeles apartment for the summer as a graduation gift, Emi Price isn’t sure how to fulfill his one condition: that something great take place there while he’s gone. Emi 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 she and her best friend, Charlotte, discover a mysterious letter at the estate sale of a Hollywood film legend, Emi must move beyond the walls of her carefully crafted world to chase down the loose ends of a movie icon’s hidden life, leading her to uncover a decades’ old secret and the potential for something truly epic: love.
I was wavering between giving Everything Leads to You 3.5 stars and 4 stars because I just wasn’t sure about it. I really enjoyed it and it was a quick, feel-good read but I didn’t think it was anything particularly special. For me, this book fell a little short of the mark. It wasn’t bad at all but it wasn’t as wonderful as I had hoped it would be. It’s a strange one. It was too good for me to give it an average rating but not good enough to be anything but a comfortable 4 stars. It wasn’t deep and emotional enough to really affect me but it also wasn’t cute and fluffy enough for me to flail about.
In this book, aspiring movie set designer, Emi finds herself in the possession of an important letter after attending the estate sale of a famous actor who had passed away recently. She and her best friend, Charlotte decide to hunt down the addressee but find themselves unravelling a mystery that leads to a hidden secret. I went into the book expecting the whole book to be about the mystery and it was kind of just a small part of the book and was a little bit predictable. Everything was kind of hinted at or theorised in the first part of the book, so when things were revealed later on, it just felt like a confirmation of what we already knew and was, honestly, just a bit meh.
What I did enjoy though was the set design and movie aspects of the book. Everything Leads to You is very much a book about movies and the movie industry. Along with uncovering the mystery of the letter, we also get to follow Emi as she puts together the set for an indie movie, and discovers who she is as a person and designer. I really enjoyed learning a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes and the process of designing a set. It was something I had never read about before so I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Through the writing and Emi’s voice, you could also feel all of the passion she had for her job and how good she was at it. I really liked how film was the theme running through the whole book and that the book really read like a movie. I could see it playing out in my head. But at the same time, this disconnected me from the book and the story a little bit because it seemed too perfect and too movie-like for me to really relate to it. It was all just a bit one-dimensional; everything was charming and hipster and perfect.
I thought the characterisation in this book was a little bit of a let down. The characters all fell a little bit flat for me. I didn’t think there was anything particularly interesting about any of the characters and I felt a bit indifferent about most of them. I couldn’t really connect with or relate to Emi and I just wasn’t invested in her story. I do appreciate that she was a strong character and always made decisions that were wise and mature. However, I didn’t really like her love interest, Ava. She came across to me as a little bit immature at times and I didn’t always understand her actions and decisions. Because I wasn’t a huge fan of either Emi or Ava, I didn’t really care for the romance. Sure, it was kind of cute, but I didn’t really feel any spark and the whole thing seemed a little bit convenient. It was slightly insta-lovey and I just wasn’t a fan. However, I really liked the LGBTQ+ aspects. This wasn’t a coming-out story and both characters were open about their sexuality. It felt like both characters were comfortable with who they were and they never tried to suppress their feelings. Emi made some really sensible and mature choices when it came to the romance and I appreciated that.
Then I dial Charlotte.
“Okay,” I say when she answers.
“Okay?” she asks.
“Yeah,” I say. “Okay.”
My favourite aspect of Everything Leads to You were the friendships. I absolutely loved Emi and Charlotte’s friendship and it was, by far, my favourite relationship of the book. It made me wish that I had a best friend like Charlotte who can just read my mind and understand me completely. Charlotte was a really great presense in Emi’s life. She was always brutally honest with Emi and got angry at others on her behalf. It was really nice to just see a close friendship like that. What I see really often in YA contemporary is the best friend who suddenly becomes absent, usually because of a small misunderstanding or argument, and doesn’t come back into the protagonist’s life until the end of the book. That wasn’t the case with Emi and Charlotte’s friendship. They were there for each other throughout the book and I enjoyed that a lot.
Overall, it was an enjoyable book that was short and quick to read. I wasn’t thrilled with the romance or the characters and found the plot a little bit lacking. Everything happened just a bit too neatly, but I did enjoy the friendships in this book.