Monday, January 5, 2015

The Road Not Taken

Expected Publication:  March 17th, 2015
Everything That Makes You
By: Moriah McStay
Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN-13:  9780062295484

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.


       I am a sucker for anything that has an alternate reality involved in the narrative.  There's just something about the road not taken that seems to appeal to me on a deeper level.  Does one event really change our lives as much as we think it does?  Moriah McStay helps us try to figure that out with a dual narrative of the same character.  The main difference between the two being that in one reality her face was horribly scarred in an accident when she was five years old.  In the other, that never happened and now she's the local high-school's (girl's) lacrosse team's star player.  She's still the same person though, right?  Not so much, actually.  Meet Fiona Doyle, an introvert who writes songs about all her anxieties and feelings, especially the ones for the boy she secretly likes.  Her counterpart, Fi Doyle, is best friends with the afore-mentioned boy and a star lacrosse player who can't be bothered to do more than the bare minimum with school or any other extracurriculars - lacrosse is her life.  Then Fi has an accident and is sidelined for an entire season.  In that time, she's forced to discover who she is without lacrosse to define her; while Fi is becoming someone else, so is Fiona, who is deciding whether or not to have her scars surgically removed with a skin graft.  Will she still be who she is, when the scars that have defined her for most of her life are almost completely gone, as if it never happened?
       My favorite thing about this book was that while both Fi and Fiona have common threads (people, places, likes/dislikes) in their lives, things ultimately end up differently.  They ARE different people, even romantically.  They end up with different career paths, love lives and family issues.  Fi has to figure out who she is without sports and in doing so, meets the love of her life.  But she lets it consume her and when things go wrong, she downward spirals into destructive self-pity.  It takes some harsh wake-up calls for Fi to pull herself out of the darkness of being alone - by choice.  I had a harder time relating to her than to Fiona, who is struggling to accustom herself to being liked and noticed for any reason other than her scars at first/in spite of her deformity.  She has such a difficult time putting herself on display with her music, even after the scars are gone as an excuse.  Because yes, she was using them as an excuse to not let anyone get close.  Both Fi and Fiona are dealing with huge changes in their lives and ultimately they have to discover a way to rise above it.  
       I loved the writing style, the dialogue and the interactions between the characters.  This book punched me in the gut and it was in the best way.  That said, I do think it was semi-unrealistic for Fi to pull out of her downward spiral so easily.  And her Northwestern problem would NOT have been so easily resolved in the real world.  With some minor believability problems aside (and yes, with an alternate-universe as the lynchpin, that is an oxymoronic statement!), I really enjoyed this book.  I highly recommend it for people who enjoy messing with events, reality and reading about different versions of people.  Also, there is some super-sweet romance in this book.  I have to say, I liked Fiona's romance a lot better than Fi's though.  I was swooning a little bit! :D

VERDICT:  4.5/5  Stars

**I reviewed this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is March 17th, 2015.**

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