Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay
Published by HarperCollins on March 17th 2015
Pages: 352
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via 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.


This has been one of my most anticipated debuts of 2015 for a long time. Because really, who among us hasn’t wondered what our lives would be like if we had taken another road, made an alternative choice, done something just a little bit differently? I pretty much ask myself this every day, so the topic of this book was appealing to me from the start.

Some things worked, and a few didn’t. Overall, I liked the book, and I really only had one actual issue with it.

The Good:

  • I enjoyed the different viewpoints of Fiona and Fi. Neither was always likable, but I mean, neither is anyone else. Both Fionas had a habit of feeling bad for themselves and wallowing a bit, but no one is perfect, and I probably would have felt sorry for myself too. But apart from that, they were quite different people, though they shared some similar characteristics. It kind of brought up the nature versus nurture debate, and whether our experiences define us.
  • The secondary characters were intriguing too, since a lot of them overlapped in both Fionas’ lives. But as she was different, so were they. I then started questioning the impact and influence of those around us on our personalities.
  • The plot was (predictably) character driven, since the point was exploring what would happen if Fiona hadn’t had the accident. I liked that it spanned a pretty long period of time, because I think it gave more insight into both girls’ characters. There was a lot of focus not just on romantic relationships, but friendships and family relationships as well (quite possibly more of a focus on the latter two than the first).
  • Basically, this book made me think a lot, which I appreciate in a book. It made me consider the importance events have in our lives, the importance other people’s interactions and reactions to us have in our lives… pretty much it made me question how every single experience brought me to where I am. That’s heavy stuff!

The Not As Good:

  • I really only have one complaint, but it is a kind of big one: I don’t think it is a spoiler, per se, but I will mark it as such just in case. View Spoiler »

Bottom Line: I enjoyed the book while reading it, and I definitely had feels on more than one occasion. I think that the separate lives of Fiona and Fi were handled quite well, and the way things played out was incredibly plausible. If the “real world” application piece had been there, this probably would have been a home run for me, but it was still worth reading for sure!


Okay, spill: Is there any event in your life that you really, really wonder what would have happened if it had gone differently? (I know, we are getting personal in here!)

I’ll tell you mine: I wonder what would have happened if I had gone to college somewhere I wanted to go instead of just going to the least scary place that fell into my parents’ “not home” rule.

Posted March 13, 2015 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Review , / 25 Comments

25 responses to “Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

  1. Definitely. My dad died just over 9 years ago, and SO MUCH has changed since then. I don’t even know for sure if I would have ended up being a writer, living where I do, being the person I am now… I have such a dramatically different attitude than I did before, mainly because I know of the dreams he had and told myself never to let a dream go without at least giving it a shot.

    • Oh wow. I am going to cry, this is so freaking inspirational! My goodness. I am so sorry for the loss of your father, and I cannot even imagine how proud he is of what you’ve accomplished. My goodness, I can’t think of a better tribute to him than what you’ve done, and also, I am now crying.

      • Aw, you’re so sweet! *passes a tissue*. He truly was one of the good ones, and would definitely be proud. I’m glad I had him as long as I did, though I’m sad my kids never got to meet him. Now get out there and live your dreams! hop hop! 🙂

  2. The book does sound interesting but I don’t think it’s going to be book I’ll love. I’ve pretty much read a lot of books basing it on different directions and whatnot, it’s just blahblahblah self-discovery LOL Anyways great review!

  3. I really like the concept of this one! I read your spoiler, but I’m not sure I understood it correctly lol xD So I might still check out this book – glad you liked it for the most part though, added it to my TBR!

    • It is confusing to even explain! Like, the lives didn’t ever merge together. So… the question of “what if?” was only answered to US, never to the characters. If that makes any more sense? (It likely does not hahha)

  4. I really like the cover for this book. I really like the concept. I don’t really have a what-if I would like to entertain in my life. I can see that everything has happened for a reason and it made me the way I am, which I wouldn’t change at all.

    • Wow, Karen, I am impressed! My life is one giant what if, but if you ask me, you are living the best way possible! And the cover is really great, especially after reading the story 😉

  5. Great review! This one has been on my radar for a long time as well. I am looking forward to reading it. A couple of years before I met my husband, I was in a crappy relationship. I mean, this guy treated me like crap. I kept wanting to break up with him, but then I just wouldn’t. He finally dumped me and I have always regretted letting it drag out so long. After that, I was a wreck so I took about a year off of dating, then signed up for eharmony and met my husband! I have always wondered what would have happened if I had just dumped that guy from the beginning or never bothered with him at all. I love my husband and I would like to think I just would have met him sooner. 🙂

    • Awww that is lovely! (One of my biggest what ifs involves my husband too, but I figured it wasn’t nice to post it hahha because it is NOT as nice as yours 😉 ) That is so very sweet, I bet staying with the jerk just made you realize that much more how great your husband is! I am very happy for you <3

  6. Yeah, they weren’t always likable (actually, I didn’t like them much), I liked Fiona more in the beginning, I found her whiny at feeling sorry for herself, which I get, but I liked that she wasn’t that bitter about what happened. But honestly, there was nothing I liked about Fi.
    But aha! That was exactly my ultimate problem too, I never got the point of the what if scenario if it didn’t connect and didn’t have an ultimate message, like no matter what happens to you, you determine who you are, and where you’ll go, but you’re just getting there on a different path because that thing did happen. I think Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young dealt with that a lot better. Especially when it came to the love interests, because I can’t get over how different they acted in this, because sorry, something happening or not happening to you, doesn’t determine somebody else’s characteristics, unless it’s family. I don’t think I explained that well, haha, but oh well.

    I believe that if something major is meant to happen, it’ll happen no matter what, but I always think of how my family would be, and would I be the same person I am now, the way I act and think, if my brother hadn’t been killed. I was pretty young when he died, but I think that’s why I never felt like a kid when I was younger, or if I would’ve been the same. But I mean, anything big or small over the years have an impact on you, so I guess with any What If, you’re never going to know.

    • Well, I agree, that was the thing that bugged me about BOTH Fionas- the feeling sorry. Especially Fi. BUT, I knew I’d have acted the same way. So it was hard. I mean how do you fault someone else when you know you aren’t any better? And I think this book easily could have been a favorite for me if it had been connected in any way. And I totally get what you mean with you about the friends changing. I guess I *kind of* got it, because whatever the BFF’s name was (I forget now) wouldn’t have had the same close friends, so she would have been different… I don’t know, I guess it is that whole “Butterfly Effect” thing, that was how I took it, anyway.

      And wow, I am terribly sorry about your brother, I don’t think I’d known you were that young when he died. I think you’re probably right, it had to have an impact on your entire life, there’s no way around it. The what ifs are really hard to deal with, especially with something like this that is so difficult AND so out of your control, and has such an impact on your whole family.

      • Thinking about it now, I do get the book more, like after what happened we moved, so I started a new school, got new friends, and I mean, something else might have happened that would’ve made us move, but it’s the thing of I might’ve grown up on the same street, had the same friends, etc. So I get why some of them were different, but I don’t think it would change them at the core, if that makes sense. Like what’s him name (seriously, I’ve forgotten them all) but the one with the brother (which if I remember, Fiona ended up with, right?) he didn’t change that much, only towards her because she wasn’t Fi. But Trent was totally different, but then again, we didn’t get to really know him in Fiona’s part, so maybe he would’ve been the same if we had? I’ve confused myself now, haha.

  7. Aw, sad it didn’t live up to your full expectations. *sigh* That was basically me and The Sin Eater’s Daughter. I HAD SUCH HIGH HOPES. And boo. They drowned. I actually haven’t been 100% intrigued on this one, but, like usual, I just want to read aaaaaall the books. ONE DAY. Alternate choices/realities? Um, yes please.

    • I want to read all the books too. You have minions, can’t you find a way for us to do this!?!? It’s hard when a book doesn’t live up to your hopes. I had to really think before I rated this one, because I didn’t want to rate it based on my high hopes and give it a lower rating than it deserved but I also didn’t want to give it higher because I felt bad. The struggle is real!

  8. I’m glad that you were able to see Fiona and Fi’s flaws as a positive thing. It’s nice to know that this book really made you think, about how other people affect us and how we affect others as well. And it’s awesome that family and friendships are prominent here, despite the synopsis promising more romance (which, quite frankly, wouldn’t be such a bad thing, either!).

    Glad you liked this one, Shannon! (Although a “connection” of some sort definitely would have made this a better book.)

  9. I completely agree with what you have hidden in the spoiler. Instead of one story that seamlessly stitches together answers, I felt like McStay just kind of wrote two books and threw them together. I wanted more answers than she gave.

    I’m glad I read this one though. Even though I wasn’t a huge fan (because at least two stars means that I enjoyed parts), I liked that she tackled the “what if” possibilities. I think about things like that all the time, and I’ve come up with so many different ways my life would be different if I hadn’t had some of the things that have happened to me happen.

    • YES! Thank you, THAT is how I should have explained it 😉 That is exactly how I felt! You win this post! I DID love the “what if”, and I enjoyed the two books (since you are so spot on, that is exactly what this is!) but I would have LOVED it if it had been ONE BOOK.

      And I am the same way- I think about it all the time- too much really! Le sigh.

      • Awe. Thank you. I should have put that in my review. I don’t remember if I did or not. lol

        I really liked each individual story, and I probably would have rated them higher if they were on their own. Oh well. But the book is still in my head. I don’t know if it’s growing on me or if it’s haunting me. lol

  10. I’m always fascinated by alternate realities, so I might give this one a try even though it sounds a bit on the angsty side. The thing below the spoiler tag is interesting, because I was actually already thinking about how I’d do that as a writer while I was reading the blurb as I also would expect that to happen. But thanks for the warning, so now I won’t expect it and be disappointed! (Unless I forget about it until I actually read the book, which is totally a valid possibility. :D)

    • Hahha I always forget stuff I read about books, and then am all “why didn’t anyone warn me!?” when really, they did 😉 And you need to write the book! Now I want to know how it SHOULD be done, so if you go ahead and write it, I will promise to buy lots of copies!

  11. This book sounds so interesting. I love the idea of alternate universes and what ifs (though I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like that), so I really would like to check this one out.

    I guess I always wondered how different my life would have been if I had fought to go to university somewhere other than my home town or if I hadn’t gone to medical school, but chose one of the other career options I considered before. But dwelling on these things are hard, because we can’t change the past, right?

  12. I’m glad you liked it though! I can’t see what the complaint is because I won’t spoil myself even though I probably won’t read this. But I think it’s an interesting topic. NATURE VS. NURTURE. THE AGE OLD QUESTION OF ALL TIME. hahahah.

    Awesome review Shannon 😀

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