Review: Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno

Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno 
Release Date: July 25, 2017 
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 
Source: Library 
A soaring novel by the critically acclaimed author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce and The Lost & Found, perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven and Rainbow Rowell.

Lottie Reaves is not a risk taker. But she’s about to take a leap into the unknown…

When Lottie's beloved Aunt Helen dies of cancer, it upends her careful, quiet life.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the world-famous author of the bestselling Alvin Hatter series. She knew a thing or two about the magic of writing, and how words have the power to make you see things differently.

In her will, Aunt Helen leaves Lottie a series of letters—each containing mysterious instructions. As Lottie sets about following them, she realizes they’re meant to make her take a risk, and, for once in her life, really live. But when the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about her aunt’s past—and the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series—Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fears once and for all.

Part mysterious adventure, part love letter to the power of books, this is a brilliantly woven novel about loving, reading, writing, grieving, and finding the strength to take a leap.


With 2017 quickly coming to an end, I made a late resolution to read some more 2017 releases, specifically YA contemporaries. With that goal in mind, I picked up Katrina Leno's Everything All At Once. I hadn't heard too much about it, but the reviews I had seen had been incredibly positive. Plus the synopsis screamed "read me, read me!" And now that I've read the book (well, more like DEVOURED it!) all I can think is: "Why aren't more people talking about this?!" 

Everything All at Once begins the story of Lottie Reaves, a rule follower who prefers to watch action unfold in her favorite books rather than partake in it. That's all about to change, however, as Lottie's late Aunt Helen, the woman behind the world famous Alvin Hatter series (think J.K. Rowling level famous), has left her behind 24 letters with very specific instructions. Each letter contains a dare, one that will make Lottie live a little bit more, and the letters will lead up to a big reveal - a secret that Aunt Helen has hidden for years. 

There's so much I loved about this book; however, I think the part I loved the most was the characters. Lottie was without a doubt my favorite. 

Lottie is sweet as well as funny and just a tad bit quiet. She loves reading, which I could 100% relate to, and she'd rather hang out with her best friend and brother than go adventuring, which I could also relate to. Over the course of the book, however, a new side of Lottie comes out: a daring, risk-seeking side. I enjoyed seeing this transition as well as seeing how Lottie evolved after each dare. What I liked the most, though, was that it wasn't a 180 degree flip. At the core, Lottie was still the same girl just a bit more ready to live her life to the fullest.

In addition to Lottie, her whole family was introduced, and all of them were wonderful! Lottie's mom, dad, brother, and aunt all brought their own special touch to the novel. I especially appreciated that that even though Aunt Helen was gone by the time the novel began, I still got to know her through her letters and excepts from the Alvin Hatter series. Aunt Helen is eccentric, caring, and strong - the kind of aunt that I would want on my side for sure! 

The plot Everything All at Once mainly revolves around Lottie's dares, and through the dares, more is revolved about Lottie's aunt and her books. With twenty four dares, I worried that some would become repetitive, or that eventually the excitement of what was next would wear off, but that didn't happen one bit. Instead Katrina Leno perfectly crafted them, making each unique and important to the story. I especially loved how she slowly built up Lottie's fearlessness through them as well as the secret that Aunt Helen was hiding. It was enough to keep me satisfied with the progress but dying for more! I also enjoyed that Katrina Leno put a relationship we don't often see in YA novels up front and center: the bond between an aunt and niece. I've been blessed with many wonderful aunts in my life, so to see a novel about the positive relationship between an aunt and her niece was so awesome! The bond between Aunt Helen and Lottie was unbreakable, and my heart broke to see Lottie go through the pain of not having her anymore, of not being able to sneak over to her house to admire her knickknacks and ask for the advice only an aunt can offer. I also appreciated that Katrina Leno included Lottie's anxiety and panic attacks as a focus of the book. I thought she did a wonderful job of incorporating them into the plot, and I also liked that they didn't magically disappear as Lottie built up her confidence. The scene at the end equally broke and warmed my heart. I was so proud of Lottie, but I won't say more than that!  

Last but not least: the writing. Katrina Leno is such a great writer! She seamlessly brought together the letters, narrative, and excerpts. I was never left craving more....well, okay maybe that's a lie: I kinda with the Alvin Hatter series was real so I could see it in all its glory! 

In all, Everything All at Once is a magical, beautifully written contemporary! It tackles the hard topics in life: death, moving on, speaking up, and dealing with obstacles out of your control. It's so easy to be lost within its page - when I got to the last chapter I was like "that's it?!". Katrina Leno is a hidden gem of a writer, and I can't wait to read more by her in the future! 

4.5 stars!! 


  1. Before I read this review, I had to scroll down to the bottom, because if the rating was low, I couldn't bear to read it. I. LOVED. This book. It was one of my favorites when I read it. It was emotional and beautiful. It's one of the few books within a book that actually worked for me, so I must agree with you about Leno's ability to blend the two stories.

  2. I love that this book showcases the relationship between a niece and aunt - you're right, it's not one that I see often, either. Aunt Helen sounds wonderful! I had this one on my TBR and for some reason took it off, but I think I will be adding it back on!


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