Published by Paula Stokes on January 2, 2018
Source:Copy provided by author for review
College senior Oakland Fuller has always believed in signs and soulmates, so when both a therapist and a fortuneteller say that her repeated relationship failures are due to unresolved feelings for her high school boyfriend, Seth, Oakland tries desperately to get back in touch with him. Problem: Seth isn’t responding to her online messages.
To rescue Oakland from a pathetic Christmas break of sitting in front of the computer, her best friend Morgan books the two of them on a guided excursion of Thailand. When the girls meet a pair of American soldiers in Bangkok, Oakland takes Morgan’s advice and engages in a little harmless holiday hooking up. Sergeant Tyson Banks is the perfect mix of sexy and fun. Two weeks with him might just turn out to be the best relationship Oakland has ever had.
Until the day she spots someone familiar across a crowded temple complex—it’s Seth! Somehow the boy she’s been trying to reconnect with is in Bangkok too. If that’s not a sign, then what is?
Filed with friendship, romance, and gorgeous faraway settings, The Key to Everything is a book for anyone who's ever dreamed of finding love when (or where) they least expected it.
I’ll go ahead and admit it: I am always a tiny bit scared to venture into a New Adult book. I’ve read some really good ones, and some that definitely left me with a bad taste for the genre. But when I saw that Paula Stokes was writing one, I knew if I’d be trying anyone’s NA, it’d be hers! And I was very happy with my decision!
Usually the thing I hate most about NA is that I find the characters to be either unlikable, unbelievable, unrelatable, or a big ol’ combo platter of the three. But not in this one! I found Oakland to be quite relatable and sympathetic. She was nuanced, flawed, and had a lot of qualities that I definitely had at her age. And my favorite thing about this book? The love interest(s) weren’t jerks. The characters were all just decent human beings trying to live their lives. Mistakes are made, lessons are learned, but everyone just seemed human.
Oakland’s relationship with her best friend was really great- it was a healthy, positive female friendship. These women supported and loved each other no matter what. And of course they had ups and downs, as all friends do, but the relationship Oakland and Morgan had mirrored some of my own from that age very, very much. Oakland often felt like the sidekick instead of the main character; Morgan seemed to garner attention wherever she went. And that was something Oakland didn’t fault Morgan for, but something she did have to try to come to terms with herself.
Another thing Oakland needed to figure out? What she wanted out of a relationship, who she wanted. At one point, she talks about how everyone wants to feel wanted, and it is just so true. Not only is Oakland trying to figure out what she wants and needs from friendships and romantic relationships, but she is trying to decide what direction she wants her life to go after college. Add to it navigating a relationship with her parents, and she’s got quite a bit on her plate. But it’s stuff that so, so many people have gone through (or will go through)!
And, it’s set in Thailand! Paula Stokes has been, for me, one of the authors who can do an enormous job of painting amazing pictures of the setting her books take place in, and this was no different. I kept highlighting passages, with little notes that said “add to bucket list”, because the setting was so well done.
There were a few things that seemed a wee bit too coincidental for my taste, but that is about the only negative I had in the book. Oakland could be frustrating at times, but I think we all can be frustrating at times, so I didn’t really see that as a negative, it’s just all part of character development. She had to make mistakes to grow, so while she did irritate me from time to time, I really don’t see it as a bad thing!
Bottom Line: I have faith in NA again! The author did an awesome job showing that a book can have steamy parts while also still having amazing characters and stories.