Everything All At Once by Katrina Leno

Lottie Reeves has always struggled with anxiety, and when her beloved Aunt Helen dies, Lottie begins to fear that her own unexpected death might be waiting around every corner.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the best–selling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers.

In her will, she leaves one last writing project—just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Soon, Lottie’s trying some writing of her own, leaping off cliffs, and even falling for a boy she’s only just met. Then the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series. Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fear once and for all.

I received this book for free from edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I originally picked this book because the synopsis mentions that the main character, Lottie, suffered from anxiety and was dealing with the loss of her aunt. Having anxiety myself, I always enjoy reading books with main characters with a similar mindset as my own. I am SO glad that I picked this book up. It is one of my top books of the year so far!

Lottie has anxiety and handles things a little differently than the rest of her family. When her Aunt Helen passes away, Lottie gets letters from her to help process everything. When her aunt was initially diagnosed with the disease that would kill her, she writes these letters specifically challenging Lottie to overcome certain things and to share parts of her own life that on one else knew. It was so refreshing to follow Lottie along on this journey. I really think she was able to grow as a person. She doesn’t really overcome her anxieties, but she does learn some different ways on how to handle them. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I don’t think there is a way to truly overcome them so I appreciated this realistic take – not everything is fixable in life.

At first I liked Aunt Helen, but as we read more of her letters, the less I did. She was so selfish about what information she was passing on and why she only wanted to share it with Lottie. I do see where she was coming from so I didn’t really hold it against her. I liked the rest of Lottie’s family as well. Her brother, Abe, was probably my favorite. He was such a good brother. He never got angry about why their aunt gave letters to Lottie and not him. He just understands how Lottie thinks and processes things. (also – he sniffed books!)

I slightly guessed the twist with Sam. I had a couple different theories going and by the end I was able to really guess what was going on before it was really expressed. That was a bit sad – the predictability factor – and probably my only true complaint. The excerpts from Aunt Helen’s books in between each chapters were nice, but hard to follow since they weren’t really in a chronological order and were a bit all over the place. The last thing that made me rate a little lower than I wanted is how it ended. It just ended. I’m all for an open ending, but it was almost like the book just stopped.

Overall, this was such a quiet, meaningful book. How it was written and this take on coping with grief and anxieties was quite refreshing. I really can’t wait to read more by this author, and I definitely recommend this one!

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