Freshly graduated from high-school, budding film set designer Emi takes up her brother’s offer to move into his L.A. apartment with her best friend, Charlotte. His only rule is that they must do something epic in the place. Finding an old letter written by a recently deceased movie star, Emi and Charlotte become swept up in the mystery of his life. The letter leads them to Ava, who lives in a shelter for teens. Emi is drawn to this talented and beautiful girl who could help Emi get over her ex-girlfriend and first true love. When the girls are hired to work on the same indie film during the summer, they spend more time together.
Even though the setting is Los Angeles and the story is centered on filmmaking, the characters aren’t typical glittery, elegant, rich L.A. fare. Emi’s parents are college professors, and she has to work to prove her worth for the job she wants. Ava and her friend, Jamal, have jobs at the Home Depot to survive. Early in the novel, Emi explains the “collapse of the fantasy”: people who work on movies see how everything works and that the actors aren’t the characters they portray. This idea becomes the driving theme behind the whole story: Ava helps Emi discover that life and relationships are not as glamorous and mysterious as in the movies.
With its light tone, the book follows the predictable path to a happily-ever-after conclusion, but watching the characters arrive makes the journey enjoyable. Everything is important because it’s not a coming out story. At the beginning, Emi is already aware that she is attracted to girls and has had a serious on-again, off-again girlfriend. Her friends and family are all accepting, yet Ava’s past shows that not all families accept LGBT children.
With its big city setting, emphasis on the world of movie-making, and characters just out of high school, similar to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando, this book will draw a much wider appeal than that reserved for LGBT books. Everything Leads to You is a great book to add to teen collections and recommend to fans of romance and coming-of-age stories.
Reviewer: Jenna Goodall
Youth Services Librarian, Deerfield (IL) Public Library