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I Belong

Review: The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman

The Cost of All ThingsTitleThe Cost of All Things

AuthorMaggie Lehrman

Genre: YA Magical Realism

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 12, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062320742 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062320742 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


What would you pay to cure your heartbreak? Banish your sadness? Transform your looks? The right spell can fix anything…. When Ari’s boyfriend Win dies, she gets a spell to erase all memory of him. But spells come at a cost, and this one sets off a chain of events that reveal the hidden—and sometimes dangerous—connections between Ari, her friends, and the boyfriend she can no longer remember.

Quick & Dirty: An evocative, intriguing debut about how one mistake can lead to a chain of reactions.

Opening Sentence: There’s a hemakist who lives in the run-down cluster of houses behind the high school.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Ari’s boyfriend Win died. So she does what many do in hard times – she takes a spell from a Hemakist. She forgets him, she forgets her pain, but it sets off a chain reaction that changes the lives of everyone she knows. Suddenly, her friendships are unraveling, she can no longer dance, and her life seems to be falling apart. Revelations and romances bloom in this twisty, evocative novel.

Each one of the five points of views played a large part in this story. That was part of why I liked it so much – the characters were all unique, and showed a lot of complexity under their public facade. There was depth to each of them from the start, and part of what made this novel so interesting is watching as they evolve. We saw them at their best. But we also saw them at their worst – they were flawed, they were imperfect – that was what made them so realistic and relatable. The writing had a flowing, evocative, almost melodic quality to it that made reading from these five points of view (Echo, Ari, Markos, Diana, and Kay) a breeze.

There were plenty of different characters to talk about, but let’s go with Kay first. She was probably the character that made me feel the most, ironically – her name is Katelyn. Mine is Kaitlin. Anyway, she had spelled her two friends with a hook, which made it impossible for them to ditch her. While this is a horrible thing to do, it also proved the fragility of her self-esteem, and how deeply she was imprinted by her sister leaving without her to vacation the globe. She was my favorite character to watch develop, because she definitely had her ups and downs, and her emotions were so vivid. I think, in the end, she made sacrifices that overcame the other girls, even though she had made some of the worst mistakes.

Markos was our one male perspective in this novel and I think he stood out. On the outside, he’s a player, and he’s a party boy. But on the inside there is so much more going on. He feels that he has failed to reach his family’s expectations for him, which makes me sad and angry. To add to that, he’s having increasing feelings for a girl that he never wanted to fall in love with. It’s a relationship that he knows he’ll end up screwing up, which, of course, makes the fallout happen so much quicker. Adding to that, his mother is hiding something that will have repercussions. Watching him navigate the precarious situations he was in was really interesting, and his character was one of my favorites.

The other three characters were just as great, each of them a different story and with different issues. This was a really character-driven novel, and I loved the message that there is more to anyone that meets the eye. There were plenty of other messages, too – my English teacher would have a field day on this one. I think that the writing style was really gorgeous, and the plotline traveled really nicely. This was my first magical realism novel, having just discovered that this was a separate genre from fantasy (thanks, Mrs. Cullen!). The magical elements add to the plotline without overcoming it. I think that it’s worth a read and would recommend it for sure!

Notable Scene:

So much for making things right. So much for spells.

They couldn’t be counted on when it mattered. Spells would always find a way to trick you, to use your weaknesses against you, to come up with the ugliest possible solution to your problem. They were blunt instruments – but then again so were planks and flames. Fists and hammers. So were words and kisses.


FTC Advisory: Balzar + Bray/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of The Cost of All Things. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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