Monday, April 27, 2015

Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Review copy from Edelweiss

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.

My Thoughts:

Moriah McStay's debut, Everything That Makes You, is not quite anything I've come across before. Though this probably is not an original idea, meaning that this is not the first time a story like this has been put together, I would argue that this is pretty original when it comes to YA (correct me if I am wrong). Well, despite the possibility that there might be other books that use the same premise than Everything That Makes You, I found myself immensely enjoying this one and it proved to be a quite a unique, new reading experience for me.

We are introduced to Fiona Doyle, a girl whose face is covered by scars she got in an accident when she was five years old. For her whole life, she has defined herself by her scars - she has avoided mirrors, situations in which she might be the center of attention and in general, she has tried to keep herself as invisible as possible. This uncomfortability with herself has led her to ignore possibilities where she could shine (performing her songs) or where she could actually feel something (admitting her feelings to the swoonworthy Trent). Through new experiences and a possibility for a "cure", Fiona learns that she is more than just her scars.

One of the big questions the book tackles with is what would have happened if the accident would never have taken place and Fiona would not have gotten scarred. To discover this possibility further, we are introduced to Fi Doyle. Pretty much throughout her life, she has been defined by her talent in lacrosse, a sport her parents do not see Fi having a future in. Though it could offer her a place in college, it is not something she can do for the rest of her life, or at least that is how her parents think. When Fi gets into an accident and lacrosse is suddenly taken out of her life, at least for a while, she has to start to look for something else to define herself with. When she meets Marcus, everything changes in a way Fi never would have expected.

The novel switches between Fiona's and Fi's stories, with same characters occurring in both. There is Trent, who is the unattainable crush to Fiona and the best friend to Fi. There is Marcus, who Fiona only hears about while for Fi he becomes someone who changes her life. And then there is Jackson, who is friend to both, but possibly something more for one of them. I loved to read about the differences between Fiona and Fi and it was interesting to notice that though they are different, they also share a lot of similarities. Though they have different backgrounds, they essentially are the same person, just with different destines. The discovery of "what ifs" and "what nots" eventually leads to two different paths of self-discovery, forgiveneness and second changes.

I loved how honestly McStay writes about struggle with self-love and the process of understanding that there are things we cannot change, even if we want to. Both Fiona and Fi struggle with confidence, though in two very different ways, and both learn something new through what they experience. At first, their stories are heavily intertwined, but as the book processes and more events happen, they get distanced more and more - one conversation can have the power to change everything, one decision might either make or brake you.

McStay's debut is written with confidence and bravado. Everything That Makes You probably has not been the easiest book to write, and I salute McStay for intertwining the stories together with skill. The only reason I go with four stars instead of five is the fact that it took me a while to fully get into this book, but once that happened, I could not put it down.

4 Snowflakes



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