Everything All At Once
by Katrina Leno
Hardcover, 368 pages
Publication// July 25th 2017 by HarperTeen
*ARC received from the publisher for this review*
“From the author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce and The Lost & Found comes a magical new YA novel about 24 dares, 3 weeks, and taking a leap into the unknown.
Lottie Reeves has always struggled with anxiety, and when her beloved Aunt Helen dies, Lottie begins to fear that her own unexpected death might be waiting around every corner.
Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the best–selling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers.
In her will, she leaves one last writing project—just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Soon, Lottie’s trying some writing of her own, leaping off cliffs, and even falling for a boy she’s only just met. Then 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 fear once and for all.
This gorgeous novel is perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, with the scavenger hunt feel of Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, and a dash of magic that evokes Tuck Everlasting.”
Everything All At Once is the story of Lottie, who is following instructions left via letter by her recently-passed world famous aunt. Along the way she mourns, heals, grows, and experiences so many things she might not have otherwise. Throw in a cute, mysterious boy and with a life-changing secret, and you can’t go wrong.
Lottie + mental health //
One of the major themes in this story centers on Lottie’s own mental health. Aunt Helen recognizes that they both experience anxiety, and actively tries to get Lottie to not only confront the thing she fears, but also to recognize it and work through and with it. One of the way Lottie’s anxiety manifests is in panic attacks, and another way is a fixation on/fear of/obsession with death and dying. Naturally, the death of an important relative initiates thoughts on this even more than normal for Lottie, and I think that Katrina Leno does a good job at respecting the presence of this anxiety in her life, without centering her whole personality on it.
Loss and mourning and family //
I felt that Leno does a good job at realistically talking about the process of mourning the loss of a loved one. Some of my favorite moments in the story were between Lottie and her brother Abe (WHO I LOVED A LOT), or her and her parents, or moments where she was saying goodbye to aunt Helen in different ways. These moments were sad, but also had humor or other elements that made them feel pretty realistic to me. I liked that Lottie’s parents and brother were important characters, mainly because I think YA sometimes forgets how frequently immediate family is really involved in teenagers’ lives.
Alvin Hatter //
Ah, man. I just love stories that involve fictional versions of insanely popular book series’ (think: Harry Potter, Narnia, LOTR, etc.) because I instantly understand and connect with the people who love the fictional story in the book. Similar to how Fangirl has the Simon Snow series, which made it super relatable. Alvin Hatter helped me understand the story and characters! I loved seeing excerpts from the books since they added more to the story, especially related to the themes of immortality and inspiration for the books that Aunt Helen keeps mentioning in her letters!
Aunt Helen + the letters //
I absolutely ADORE stories that follow a series of letters or dares, like so so so much. I completely ate up 13 Little Blue Envelopes, 13 Reasons Why, and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, all of which follow a similar pattern of slowing discovering more letters/tasks/pieces of a story left behind by someone else (living or passed). This was no exception! It was great getting to know Helen through the letters. She was an eccentric, lovely person and her letters were sometimes emotional, always impactful for Lottie, and in some ways for me as a reader as well. I found myself taking to heart the stories, bits of wisdom, and encouragements that Helen left for Lottie, and I found myself looking forward to the next letter as much as Lottie was!
pop culture + bookishness + Abe //
Everything All At Once had a really lovely combination of serious themes while maintaining high energy and a sense of playfulness. There were SO many fantastic pop culture references throughout the story, and I loved it! It was so much fun. Abe and Lottie together were the main ones making the references, and I think Abe is the most directly relatable character for me. In every way, he is the definition of adorable and bookish and I love it.
dash of magic //
I’m not sure that I would call it magical realism, since I’ve heard some conversations about the origins of the term and the problems with applying it to YA stories with magical elements. BUT there certainly are fun, magical elements in this story that I thought helped lighten the mood and added mystery, which overall enhanced my enjoyment of the story.
PHEW. That felt REALLY long. I guess I just had a lot to say about this one, since I enjoyed it so much! It’s has great representation. It is incredibly playful, magical, mysterious, relatable, and honest in it’s portrayal of family deaths and mental health concerns.
It truly is perfect for fans of 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Fangirl.
Pick EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE up asap!
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars