Welcome to one of the stops on the Thomas Allen & Son blog tour for You Are the Everything, a new young adult novel from award-winning Canadian author Karen Rivers. Please read on for my thoughts, a very special guest post from Karen herself, as well as link to a tour-wide giveaway for Canadian residents. I’ll put up the blog tour postcard on the bottom of the post so you can check out what other participants of the tour have written and posted. Enjoy!
You Are the Everything by Karen Rivers
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son. Thank you!
Publication: October 30, 2018 by Algonquin Young Readers (an imprint of Algonquin Books)
Available in Canada through Thomas Allen & Son
Can you want something—or someone—so badly that it changes your destiny? Elyse Schmidt never would have thought so, 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, 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. When the pieces of Elyse’s life stop fitting together, what’s left? You Are the Everything is a story about the fates we yearn for, the fates we choose, and the fates that are chosen for us.
Karen Rivers, the award-winner Canadian author behind The Encyclopedia of Me and The Girl in the Well is Me, returns with the potent contemporary young adult novel You Are the Everything.
You close your eyes and make a wish. 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.” Ideally, that is.
The story begins with Elyse Schmidt, best friend Kath, longtime and secret crush Josh Harris, and classmates on a plane back to the Unites States from a trip to Paris. Elyse and Kath are in the midst of a tiff, and Josh takes up the empty seat next to Elyse and falls asleep, leaving Elyse to wonder…to think even more about Josh Harris (Elyse always refers to him to by his full name), to imagine a reality in which they are together in a relationship. Elyse’s love of Josh and inaction to do anything about it it frustrates Kath to no end- and arguably, Elyse’s intense adoration of Josh appears to border, perhaps, on the fanatical. But then, “SUDDENLY…the plane TILTS”. What follows is a horrifying plane crash that ends with Elyse and Josh as the only two survivors of the accident.
As the after of the plane crash begins, readers see what Elyse’s life has become. After months of hospital stay, rehabilitation, ongoing therapy, and much too much invasive tabloid interest in the two so-called miracle survivors, Elyse and her parents move to Wyoming. So has Josh Harris and his father. Now, Elyse and Josh are a couple, a boyfriend and girlfriend who enjoy things like romantic picnics in a field. As we get deeper into the after, Elyse’s memory and grasps on reality waver and become increasingly frenetic: panic attacks frequently invade, lengthy snippets of conversations with her deceased best friend Kath intersperse, and questions about her and Josh’s present-day lives constantly gnaw at Elyse’s mind. Rivers works uncertainty, could-be’s, what-is?, and plays with truth, memory and time so effectively and unnervingly, ensuring readers are- along with Elyse- kept on the very edge of the story. The use of second person point-of-view is terrifically done here; one does not often see this point of view used in YA (or much in general) and I would argue that this served perfectly to heighten the intensely disquieting, nebulous feel of Elyse’s story. At times, the singularity of Elyse’s all-encompassing feelings and thoughts about the oddly perfect Josh Harris feel extreme and can appear to overtake the broader narrative. However, Elyse’s narration does bend and expand to Josh Harris and far beyond; moreover, given the scope of the story and the frame of the finale, everything, in the end, connects.
The thing is that there isn’t a choice, there isn’t always a choice, sometimes the choice is made for you…
Overall, You Are the Everything is an unconventional, sometimes romantic, sometimes harrowing novel that bends memory and time in an uncommon narrative to make for a compelling, unnerving, and ultimately gut-wrenching read. Readers who enjoy novels with murky corners and cataclysmic twists, unpredictable narratives and unreliable narrators, or the work of authors such as Nova Ren Suma, E. Lockhart, Brenna Yovanoff, or Tim Wynne-Jones might especially be keen to sink into You Are the Everything.
About the Author:
Karen Rivers’s books have been nominated for a wide range of literary awards and have been published in multiple languages. When she’s not writing, reading, or visiting schools, she can usually be found hiking in the forest that flourishes behind her tiny old house in Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives with her two kids, two dogs, and two birds. Find her online at karenrivers.com and on Twitter: @karenrivers.
Guest Post from Karen:
In this book, the two main characters have to deal with fame as one of the byproducts of surviving a tragic accident. Your previous book, A Possibility of Whales also dealt with the theme of fame, as a famous father had to navigate through fame while raising a daughter. Could you touch on the topic of fame or recognition and why you chose to explore it in your books?
I think that it’s easy to forget that, at the end of the day, a famous person is still just a person. Like my granny would have said, if she was given to saying things like this, “They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us!” Our society celebrates fame like no other before us. To an almost ludicrous degree, we look to celebrities for everything from make up tips to political advice. And with the rise of the YouTube generation, fame is something that seems to be doled out indiscriminately and almost mercilessly. We make people famous for wrongdoings. We make people famous because they filmed a funny 6-second vine. We use fame as a stamp of approval. But as quickly as we can dole out fame, we can also take it away. Does fame fundamentally change you? How close to a person do you need to be to see beyond their fame to the person who they are? Can a famous person really ever trust friendships to be true? And what about unwanted fame? Once fame is ascribed to you, it seems impossible to give it back, to go back to being invisible and unobserved. The way we treat people who have risen to fame teeters on a line between stalking and simply wanting. We want a piece of famous people, we want them to validate us in return for the way we’ve elevated them, we want and want and want. It’s a bizarre phenomenon because it seems particularly propelled by good looks. We make Kardashians famous, but we do not also make a Nobel-winning scientist famous, even though their achievements may change the course of human history. But then again, are we gifting them with fame or cursing them with it? I suspect that fame is aspirational only until you’re really in the thick of it, and then it becomes an inescapable prison where the relentless judgment, harassment and mockery prevent you from being yourself – you are forever trapped being the person that the fame-makers want you to be. Endlessly fascinating, from the inside and the outside, why do we do this? At what price fame?
Thank you so much, Karen!
Tour-Wide Giveaway Information:
The winner will receive 1 copy of You Are the Everything (HC) by Karen Rivers.
-Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
-Giveaway ends on Wednesday Nov. 28th @ 11:59 pm EST
-Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email & will have 48 hours to claim their prize
Blog Tour Information:
You Are the Everything Blog Tour Schedule:
Nov. 12 – RemarkablyLisa
Nov. 13 – TurningPageBooks
Nov. 14 – FabBookReviews
Nov. 15 – StellarBookBlog
Nov. 16 – TrishaJennReads
Nov. 19 – AdventuresinYAFiction
Nov. 20 – MickeyReads
Nov. 21 – AllThingsChristine
I received a copy of this title courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review and for the purposes of this blog tour. All opinions and comments are my own. Guest post kindly organized and giveaway fulfilled by Thomas Allen & Son.