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I Belong

Early Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Everything That Makes YouTitleEverything That Makes You

Author: Moriah McStay

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: March 17, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062295489 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062295484 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

Quick & DirtyI wasn’t very attached to the characters in this novel. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t my favorite either.

Opening Sentence: It was cold-too cold for the zoo.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Fiona’s face is covered with scars that have been there since childhood. She is shy, desperately crushing on a lacrosse star Trent, and wishing for things that can never happen. She spends time writing songs that she is too afraid to show anyone else, songs that spill out her emotions. Her mother keeps pressing her to surgically fix the scar, but will she be the same person without the marks that made her who she is today? Fi is Fiona in a parallel universe, where the accident that plagued Fiona throughout her life had never happened. Her closest friend is Trent, she is one of the best lacrosse players in the state, and her life seems to be coming together. Until she gets heard. Suddenly everything, all her careful plans, are unraveling. Her scholarship, her plans for college, her relationships with her friends and family. Fiona deals with what happened long ago while Fi learns the consequences of giving up and the importance of pulling through.

I’ve never really been a huge reader of books with parallel universes. It’s an interesting concept, that’s for sure, but not one that I’ve ever gotten the chance to read avidly. There aren’t a huge amount of books with parallel universes out there, really. When I realized what Everything That Makes You was about I was excited to delve into it. Yes, it was an interesting book, but I didn’t find myself very invested with the characters or plot. The chapters would skip ahead so that one moment it was October and the next chapter was January. True, I have no interest in the meaningless details that happened in those months, but maybe a more in-depth summary should have been in order. This novel was written well and was uniquely woven, but I could not connect to the story at all, and my feelings by the end are just eh. That will make this review hard for me to write. I just don’t have very intense feelings about the book.

Fiona is scarred. She pours out her heart in her songs, everything she hopes for and wishes for and can’t have. She sings about her fears and the things she wants to keep. Her songs are her outlet, and reading them did make me sad, because they were raw and beautiful. But the whole book through Fi is terrified to perform in front of an audience. It’s hard to watch as again and again she commits to putting herself out there, but she gives up or pulls out or makes excuses to save herself from inevitably performing. To tell you the truth, it was also a little annoying. Fiona is also pining over Trent most of the book, who is obviously a jerk and rude and insensitive. It killed me the way she would put herself down for never being enough for him. I was irritated and felt bad for her in a muted sort of feeling; again, I wasn’t really invested in the book. She also was jealous of her brother’s girlfriend most of the way through, because she was “stealing him”. Come on. Really?

Fiona had her own problems from Fi, and it was interesting to see how alternate versions of characters were different to them in their alternate stories, how one change had affected their lives. For example, Trent. Throughout the story she denies being anything more than a friend to Trent because she doesn’t want to “mess up their friendship.” Friendzoned. I felt for Trent, even though he wasn’t the nicest guy to Fiona in her world. I mean, that’s the worst excuse in the book, and Fi was clearly giving up on their possible relationship before it began. Also her relationship with Daniel, who was very sick and she was in love with. She put off her going to her dream college to stay with him. I respect her reasons but I disagree with them. She didn’t even apply to the college she wanted to go to since she was what? Seven? Nine? Jackson was Daniel’s brother, and in Fi’s universe he is the jealous sibling, but it’s more understandable because his brother is dying.

In the end, Everything That Makes You was an okay read. It wasn’t something I hated, though there were parts that were annoying, and it wasn’t something I loved. It was okay. The cover is cool, and I like how symbolic it is of the story. Things I enjoyed about this book is the complicated way the two worlds we’re alike and different. I also enjoyed the character development. The writing was fine. I did not feel close to the characters and that, in the end, was this book’s undoing for me personally. I would recommend this to anyone who likes contemporaries, because although it’s about parallel universes, the characters from each world never really interact. It’s not very sci-fi in that aspect. People who like sad books, definitely, and those who don’t need a whole bunch of action will like this novel.

Notable Scene

She liked talking to him. He was smart and funny. Nice.

She had once told Lucy that if Trent McKinnon was ice cream, he’d be rocky road covered in sprinkles. David might be more vanilla, but nothing was wrong with vanilla. She always took some when offered.

Vanilla could never break anyone’s heart.

“Um, yeah,” she said. “Sure.”


FTC Advisory: Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins provided me with a copy of Everything That Makes You. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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