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Everything Leads to You

October 8, 2014

Everything Leads to You, by Nina Lacour, might take place in the same LA where Weetzie Bat and her friends cavort around with little or no parental interference. It’s realistically-written adolescent fantasy, with high-school-age teens who are performing well in fabulous careers while still attending high school classes and starting to enter mature relationships.

Emi, the first-person narrator of this novel, has already realized that she is exclusively attracted to people of her own gender. She is on the rebound from her first serious high school relationship with a girl named Morgan, who is so mature about the way they ended that she gets Emi her first big career break, as production designer on an independent film.

The most interesting part of the book, for me, is about Emi’s work as a designer. She describes it this way:
“The writers imagine the story, tell us where people are and what they do and say. The actors embody the characters, give them faces and voices. The directors and producers transform an idea into something real. But the art department, we do the rest. When you see their rooms and you discover that they love a certain band, or that they collect seashells or hang their clothes with equal space between each perfectly ironed shirt or have stacks of paper on their desks or a week’s worth of dirty dishes in the sink and bras strewn over brass doorknobs—all of that is me.”

Emi and her best friend Charlotte go over to the house where Emi’s parents live a couple of times, to eat take-out Chinese food and watch videos, but mostly they are living in Emi’s older brother’s apartment. They happen upon a mystery that has to do with the world of movie-making and set out to solve it, getting involved with a mysterious and attractive young woman their own age in the process. Luckily Charlotte is attracted to Emi’s older brother, leaving the mystery woman, Ava, free to fall in love with Emi. Which she does.

There’s a perfunctory “white privilege” conversation about how “we don’t all have internships and college all lined up and our parents’ credit cards,” but mostly the novel stays in teen fantasy land. The kids from the shelter are relatively undamaged by their dysfunctional family lives and remain trustworthy. The privileged kids know the difference between being infatuated with the idea of a person and being in love with the person herself.

The mystery is easily solved, so the charm of the novel stays in the cinematic parallels, at least for me. As Emi falls in love with Ava, she thinks:
“We love films because they make us feel something. They speak to our desires, which are never small. They allow us to escape and to dream and to gaze into eyes that are impossibly beautiful and huge. They fill us with longing.
But also.
They tell us to remember; they remind us of life. Remember, they say, how much it hurts to have your heart broken. Remember about death and suffering and the complexities of living. Remember what it is like to love someone. Remember how it is to be loved. Remember what you feel in this moment.”

Everything Leads to You is an easy read, a nice fantasy, and provides some variety in the YA romance section since it’s about two girls falling in love with each other.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2014 1:44 pm

    I thought this was a comfort book in more or less the same was as Eva Ibbotson’s novels. I’m not sure if that comparison will make sense to anyone who isn’t me. Did you read this essay by Nina LaCour about writing it? She explains in what I found a moving way why she wanted to write an uncomplicated love story: https://medium.com/@nina_lacour/love-can-be-simple-ee970bc056b3

    • October 8, 2014 2:21 pm

      That’s a lovely essay, Ana, thank you for posting it here.
      In the eight years I taught at a small, central Ohio college with a mostly-regional population, I met a distressing number of students from small communities and small churches whose families called any non-heterosexual relationship “sinful.” It came up because I was teaching a class about relationships in literature. I did my best to find literature showing different kinds of relationships, but I’m glad to see that it would be easier now.

  2. October 8, 2014 10:25 pm

    This sounds wonderful. I love the film connection.

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