I’m excited to bring you a new book review! Especially so soon after my last one. So far January has been a very decent reading month for me and I am so grateful for that!
Title: Everything All At Once
Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT, Mental Health
Release Date: July, 2017
Publisher: Harper Collins
Page Count: 360
My Rating: 3 Stars
24 dares. 3 weeks. Take the leap.
Lottie Reaves is not a risk taker. She plays it safe and avoids all the ways she might get hurt. But when her beloved aunt Helen dies of cancer, Lottie’s fears about life and death start spiraling out of control.
Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the bestselling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers. She knew how magical writing could be, and that words have the power to make you see things differently.
In her will, Aunt Helen leaves one writing project just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions that are supposed to get Lottie to take a leap and—for once in her life—really live. But when the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series, Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice—one that will force her to confront her greatest fears once and for all.
After reading a couple of fantasy novels in a row, I wanted to find myself a contemporary novel to read. Browsing the shelves of my local library I came upon Everything All At Once.
Personally, this is one of those books that sticks right in the middle of my rating scale. While I did enjoy reading this book, I never truly found myself in love with it. The writing was decent, and the characters were ok…but I just couldn’t find myself loving them as much as I was hoping to.
Emotionally, this book hit a little close to home for me. I had a sister-in-law that I grew up with. She was closer to me than my actual sisters. She was more of best friend than in-law. Sadly, when I was a Senior in high school she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer. She died 6 months later. The heartache that Lottie feels is pretty relatable, and I felt myself wanting to hug her through the pages of the books. The notes were a nice touch to help give Lottie’s character a nice way to coupe with her loss.
I enjoyed the fact that this book was written with a main character that is not perfect. She has anxiety issues, and we see the effects this has on the character throughout the book. While her anxiety never truly makes a horrible appearance, we get the feeling Lottie had some huge attacks in the past. A pleasant breath of air for a story like this is that the character never gets cured from her problem. She learns to handle it, and even seeks out help from those that loves her, but at the end of the novel she still has her problem. I enjoy happy endings as much as the next person, but I do like to see characters have an ending like this. It’s more realistic to see that they are working towards getting cured, or at least having an issue more manageable, but not being over a problem only after a small time.
As in any book I read, there are a few things that stand out that I loved, and things I did not.
What I liked:
The Supporting Characters. Although Lottie is the main character we follow, I couldn’t help but enjoy some of the supporting characters we are introduced to. Em was a colorful friend, and I loved the way she was always there when Lottie needed her. Abe was a book lover and a caring brother. Aunt Helen was a character that we only knew through letters, yet I found myself enjoying the moments we had with her.
Book Love. It’s always fun to see a story that has a love for books. We have characters that love to read and truly devour a series of books like many true fans do! Alvin Hatter series in this book is the equivalent to Harry Potter in this world. The books are a huge hit, and Aunt Helen is an amazing author that touched so many lives. This helps give a little love to fellow readers, but it also helps show a little bit more emotion when it comes to missing a loved one. Having such a popular aunt made it a trial to try and hold emotions in when everywhere Lottie went she was seeing something about the books her aunt wrote or hearing someone mention how much they missed her. It was also interesting to get small bits of the stories before each chapter.
What I Didn’t Like:
The Letters. One of the main plot points for this story is 24 letters Aunt Helen left to Lottie after her death. This is the part that sold me most when deciding if I wanted to read this book. While I found the letters intriguing and wanting to know what crazy thing Helen would ask Lottie to do…I felt a bit let down. The entire summary for this book is about these 24 letters that make Lottie take a risk, yet I never felt like much was risked at all. Each letter had a small task, and for the purpose they served in the plot, the tasks pushed Lottie a bit out of her comfort zone. This is a little complicated to explain, because I did enjoy the letters in one way, but in another I feel like there was a missed opportunity. If anything I feel like the letters helped us know who Helen was in life, and not really a huge risk taking task moment the description lead me to believe they would be.
Now, that I covered a bit of what I liked and what I didn’t, I would also like to discuss one element I am on the fence about. The Alvin Hatter series. More correctly, the snippet of books we get at the front of the chapters. Alvin and Margo Hatter, these adventurous immortal kids that helped Aunt Helen achieve her fame, caught my attention. I loved the idea that this was a middle grade series about immortality and secret organizations. And the writing we get in these small snippets had my attention…and yet that’s my problem. While I did enjoy a look into the books everyone talked about in this story, it left me wanting more. I personally hate the fact that these are not actual books. I want to follow Alvin and Margo on their adventures. I want to know about the house in the woods and the society that was meant to help them find their parents. I WANT TO KNOW! Each snippet just made me hate the fact that I was never going to know what this story actual was. I hate that I can’t run to the bookstore and find these books on an actual shelf to devour. I tried to skip each bit, but found myself unable to not read the little taste Leno gave me.
Overall I would probably recommend this to anyone that wants a contemporary novel to read. Especially if a reader is looking for a book that deals with mental health. Lottie’s journey through the letters was a nice break from my own world, but I don’t know if this is a book I can truly say I loved. While I really don’t have any huge complaints, I don’t have any major praises for it either.
Have you read this book? If you have what did you think?
While reading this book I couldn’t help but think of a couple of other stories that have similar ideas, so I thought I would list them here for anyone interested.
Since You’ve Been Gone (Both deal with tasks for a loved one to complete. In SYBG, the MC is given a list of things to-do. The big difference here is that Everything deals with the death of the letter’s author, where SYBG the author of the list had just moved away.)
13 Little Blue Envelopes ( In both books a dead Aunt leaves letters for a niece to follow, and each letter’s task has to be completed before the next one can be opened. Everything focuses on pretty much one area with the envelopes and tasks. 13LBE sends the MC to Europe with $1,000 to complete the tasks. Although they sound similar, both books are largely different.)
Fangirl (Both deal with a Harry Potter like fandom and has bits of story woven into the narrative. Other than a huge fandom for a book series, these books are vastly different. However, both books are a nice nod to fellow readers.)
Eliza and Her Monsters ( Like Fangirl, Eliza also focuses on a fan group and gives a small taste of a loved series. They also both deal with mental health, mainly anxiety. A big difference for these two books are that Everything is about a HP type series and fandom, while Eliza focuses on a webcomic. Both are extremely good reads!)
A Series of Unfortunate Events (This recommendation is mainly for the fictional Alvin Hatter series. Both books deals with siblings trying to find what happen to their parents. They both also deal with secret organizations.)
I really hope you enjoyed my review and I look forward to talking to you all again soon!