{Review} YOU ARE THE EVERYTHING by Karen Rivers

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    You are on a plane.
    The plane is an Airbus. You don't know anything about planes but if you were going to draw an "Airbus" it would be more like the regular bus, but with wings jutting out the sides. This is definitely not that. The seats are upholstered in blue-and-black fabric that looks new. There is a tiny screen attached to the back of the chair in front of you that shows where the Arbus is currently flying. It's a movie, starring you! (Or at least, your plane.) A tiny dashed line is superimposed over a map, illustrating where you have been and where you are going. You wish so badly that you could fast-forward along that path until you are home. 
    You are so totally over this already.
(Page 1, US hardcover edition)

“You wish that something would happen before you land, something that would make this trip worthwhile, after all. A story you can tell, later, one that ends with, 'And that's how me and Josh Harris got together.'” 

Can you want something—or someone—so badly that you change your destiny? 

That is the lead-in for YOU ARE THE EVERYTHING, the latest novel from Karen Rivers. Centered around a teen girl named Elyse Schmidt, the novel asks, what if? WHAT IF you believe in something so fiercely that it comes true? Are there consequences? Can you live with them?

Elyse is crazy in love with Josh Harris -- but she'll never work up the nerve to tell him. Instead, she makes a graphic novel starring them and lives out her fantasies on paper. She tells her best friend Kath that if she changed their names, "Then it wouldn't be real. Anyway, it feels more proactive than mooning. It's like that book The Secret. I can secret it into being true. Maybe. Theoretically." (Page 23, US hardcover edition) Elyse is on the way home from Paris, where she took a class trip for an international band competition. She's feuding with her best friend Kath, and now able to sit next to her crush, Josh Harris. While she's mad at Kath, she's also in pure bliss -- until the plane crashes. She and Josh Harris are the only survivors, and Elyse believes it's due to the fact that she made a graphic novel about them and wished it into life. But the consequences of her wish are horrific, and was the cost worth it?

It's really hard to talk about plot without a lot of spoilers, so I'm not going to try. One of the most unique aspects of it is that it's written in second person. I very rarely see books in second person. The first to come to mind is YOU by Charles Benoit. I feel like there's another that I read recently that my mind kept trying to recall, but it still escapes me. Using second person makes a story feel more immediate, like the reader is the one directly experiencing what is happening.

The emotions I felt when reading YOU ARE THE EVERYTHING followed my thought process during GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray and AS SHE FADES by Abbi Glines. Again, I don't want to spoil things, but if you loved those books, you are really going to love this one as well!

YOU ARE THE EVERYTHING is a fast read that you can finish in one sitting, and lets you experience a tragedy that nobody should ever have to go through as though you're right there yourself.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance:  PG13 ( Kissing; nothing graphic. Scenes are largely softened or faded to black. It is mentioned that Kath had sex in Paris, but the girls never talk about it and nothing is described. At one point, Elyse's mom asks if she's had sex with Josh and she says once, but it is never seen on the page )
Language: PG13 ( Language, including the F bomb. )
Violence: G ( One scene during plane crash where someone's skull hits the roof. It's a little bloody, but not graphic.  )
Other:  PG ( Underage drinking; Elyse wakes up drunk on four cups of red wine. At one point, she mentions not liking beer, but knowing she'll drink it anyway. Mention of a rumor that someone had an abortion.  )

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The cover is very dreamy. Two teens, out stargazing. It is a scene straight from the book, but at the same time, leads readers to think this is going to be a breezy book, and not about a relationship that comes from something so horrific that they're still carrying emotional baggage and disfigurations. 

...Though it DOES have a tagline at the top: You have to do it all, for us. Because you lived. So that hints at more than what meets the eye!

I also like that the book isn't whitewashing characters, though the fact that Josh Harris is black isn't talked about frequently, though it IS mentioned a couple of times! I'm glad the illustrators brought him to life properly!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Karen Rivers
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Received: For Review

Can you want something—or someone—so badly that you change your destiny? Elyse Schmidt never would have believed it, until it happened to her. When Elyse and her not-so-secret crush, Josh Harris, are the sole survivors of a plane crash, tragedy binds them together. It’s as if their love story is meant to be. Everything is perfect, or as perfect as it can be when you’ve literally fallen out of the sky and landed hard on the side of a mountain—until suddenly it isn’t. And when the pieces of Elyse’s life stop fitting together, what is left?