Saturday, June 10, 2017

Review: Everything All at Once - Katrina Leno

Everything All at Once
Katrina Leno
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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.
When Lottie's aunt succumbs to cancer, she is left in a world of grief and her anxiety is out of control. Aunt Helen knew her death would be most difficult for Lottie, so she left her 24 letters filled with wisdom, challenges, and clues to her lifelong secret.

This book is about family, friends, death, grief, anxiety, love, and life. I knew early on that this book was going to be special, and it really touched my heart in many ways.
"It had been less than a week since Aunt Helen had died, and I kept waiting for someone to call April fool."
Talk about family goals. Lottie's parents were phenomenal, and the interactions between her and her parents were real, but also quite lovely. Her parents were workaholics, but still made time to check in with their kids. They also made time for Netflix and game night. They weren't perfect, as they missed a lot of clues when it came to Lottie's anxiety issues, but they were pretty close. The sibling bond between Lottie and her brother, Abe, was stellar as well. I loved the conversations between the two, and the way they acknowledged each other. There were even a few times, when Abe would just check in with Lottie, and tell her he missed her.

"I could tell Abe felt bad, he was practically tripping over himself to get out of the bathroom (four things he hated the most: hugs, confrontation, hurting people's feeling, and people who dog-eared the pages of books)."
Lottie was also blessed with a very special friend, Em. This girl was involved in so many things, but would still come at a moment's notice if Lottie needed her. Em was just overflowing with love. Example of how wonderful Em is: Em's mother did not accept that Em was a lesbian, and showed a lot of outward hostility towards her, but Em still took the time to learn techniques to help her mother when she was suffering from an anxiety attack. Em was such a beautiful, bubbly spirit, I wanted to reach into that book and give her a huge hug. 
"Keep going. Be nice. Make friends."
I will admit it right now, I cried during every letter from Aunt Helen. Sometimes they were so raw and painful, but they were also so insightful. Most of the letters were about living your life and being in the moment. She encouraged Lottie to move out of her comfort zone and try new things, to be real and take advantage of opportunities. Drat! I am crying again. Take my word for it, these letters were very meaningful. They really guided Lottie through her grief, and helped her learn about herself and her loved ones. They do not cure her of her disorder, but they help steer her in the right direction (towards acknowledging she has a problem and seeking help). 
"Whenever somebody tells you they don't have time for you,  just remember that we make time for the things we want to make time for, and then kick them to the curb."

"..but at least every so often, every once in a while. Lose track of time. Turn off your phone. Don't rush."
And there was so much for us book lovers to love. Aunt Helen was a sort of JK Rowling. She was the world famous author and creator of the Alvin Hatter children's book series. This series followed the adventures of Alvin and his sister Margo, the immortal siblings, and snippets of the book are presented at the end of each chapter. A little more than half way through the book, I began to understand why we got these snippets, and it was fun to make the connection. 
"Books can make you live a thousand lifetimes, a thousand different lives. Books make you immortal. Love,  H."
Because Helen was a writer, she had lots of books, lot of valuable books, which were left to Abe, her book-loving nephew. There were a lot of fun passages talking about his books behind glass, and his handling the books with white gloves on, and even book sniffing.  
"You know she has first editions of every single Roald Dahl book, right? I can't wait to..." He blushed, turned away from me, and cleared his throat.

"Were you about to say smell them?" I said. 
If you read the blurb, you know this book has a touch of magic. It was an interesting choice, because it factored in so well as a solution for Lottie. I saw the breadcrumbs leading up to the reveal, but I still felt this aspect of the story was a little rushed. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this part of the story, and it definitely brought a little something extra, which enhanced the story for me.

From chapter 1, I really thought this was going to be a 5-star read, and it was so close. I swear! It came down to the ending. It's a well known fact that I abhor those open-ended type endings, and unfortunately, Leno gave me one. I think I know what happened, but she never confirmed it. So, the ending in my head is all speculation, and my personality just cannot accept this. I need evidence and confirmation of what happened. I remember reading the last line, and feeling like I missed something. I actually went back a few pages, and re-read it, but NOPE! Didn't miss anything thing. It just WAS NOT THERE!

Aside from the very end of this book, I found it to be a beautiful, wonderful, stupendous, and magical journey with Lottie and the gang. And, I regret nothing.

**I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book. Quotes are from an ARC and may change upon publication.

Have you ever been cliff diving?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I am even more excited to get to this one now!! The letters sounds amazing and i love a touch of magic in a story. Great review!!

    1. I really loved this, and now I want to check out Leo's backlist.

  2. This sounds so so good. I'm sorry that the ending was disappointing, though <3
    Megan @

    1. Not a total disappointment, but vague answers. Still an incredible book nonetheless.

  3. I have never been cliff diving! I think I'd like to though (maybe)? Anyway this sounds great. I love the sound of the family relationships, and her friendship with Em. I can see why this would be a good read. The letters sound so awesome as well.

    Nice that this was almost a 5 star! I'm with you on endings like that, I'm not super fond of the ambiguous ending, especially probably in a book like this, but otherwise... sounds great!

    1. I think I know what Leno wanted me to think, and that would be a perfect ending if that happened, but I don't know for sure. Cliff diving sounds terrifying. When I younger, I was such a daredevil, I probably would have done it then, but not now.

  4. I have never been cliff diving and i'm not sure I could because IT'S TOO SCARY! This does sound quite good but at the same time, I'm not in a huge rush to pick it up! Thanks for the review! <3

    1. I am with you - too scary. I am not a huge thrill seeker. Let's put it this way, my favorite ride is It's a Small World.

  5. This looks SO good. Also, nice use of a Stefan gif ;) I have not been cliff diving, but I like to think I would? It's probably a bucket list kind of thing. Right time, right place, right people situation perhaps. Anyway, this sounds SO good- I love a book that is emotional in a good way. And the ending might bum me out too, but I am glad that the rest of it was so good. Great review!!

    1. I am obsessed with Gifs and sticker comments. I don't like to correspond from my phone as much, because I cannot do that two thumbs thing, therefore, I struggle with finding the emojis (not enough practice). You are a brave one. I guess maybe there are some low cliffs to dive off of. This book was a wonderful adventure. The ending is not terrible, just not explicit, and that made me a little nuts, but it was joyful and awesome trip to the end of that book.

  6. Wow this one looks great although I can totally see the issue with the ending. I want to know exactly what the author thinks is going to happen I hate to have to speculate because then I am second guessing myself. I love that the letters where emotional and raw. I will need to check this one out. Great review!

    1. This really was a lovely and wonderful experience. I laughed, I cried, but most of all, I felt a lot of joy at the end.