Everything Changes by Shey Stahl
Genre: New Adult
I have been meaning to write this review for a very very long time, however I have been putting it off as I didn’t know how to arrange my thoughts into a comprehensive, cohesive sentence. Thinking about Everything Changes makes my my brain go AUFBOGNWEBHIWEOB because there is just so much to discuss.
So, what was is it about this book that turns my brain to mush? Its not just one thing, its a whole lot of things combined. Firstly it was such a different and refreshing read, the story line was full of many new challenges where things happened that made me go wtf. Secondly, the characters experienced difficulties that I haven’t really encountered in books I have read before, and lastly, the biggest factor that I enjoyed, came from the way the story was written and it is this, that makes Everything Changes really stand out to me. If you read on, you will find that before I have written my thoughts, I wrote down my thoughts on general romance because I wanted to compare Stahl’s novel to the numerous other romance novels available. I felt like I needed to this down to really compare why Everything Changes is so different. Before you continue I will warn you that this review contains spoilers. I tried writing without revealing anything and I couldn’t, so I apologise in advance. This is a long review, if you just want a paragraph summary skip to the bottom and read the paragraph after the omg gif.
I knew a boy once.
He was a boy that changed everything.
I didn’t know Parker O’Neil outside of the occasional smile and wink. The AMA Supercross racer came to our small town one winter, and I had no idea what he was capable of. How could I have known that he would change my life forever that summer? Eventually, the occasional smile became a smile I grew to love and longed to see. The occasional wink became a gesture that made my soul sway and my heart ache. In the canyons of the desert, he showed me his lifestyle and his love.
What I didn’t see was the control he had over me. It was a power the glitz and glamour of his professional lifestyle had and eventually what tore apart any life I thought I knew. In his world of banging bars and soaring jumps, there was no room for someone like me. But for five years, every time he called or touched me, everything changed again. It was a touch that could heal anything and a smile that could light even the darkest nights
My thoughts on general romance novels
I have read so many romance novels in the past few years, and in most romance novels that I have come across I find each story follows the same plot line. My problem with the romance novels I have previously read is that most of these novels seem unrealistic, where the time frame is all wonky, taking place between a few months or a year, tops. I don’t know maybe it is just me who has noticed this, but all these story lines are the same, no-one rattles the cages and deviates from the same story line. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy these stories, truth is I do.. occasionally. I am just saying that after a while this story line gets kind of… boring. If a story is executed very well with this plot line it is brilliant, but after reading the same plot line continually, I feel like I’m a watching a movie and its remake e.g. charlie and the chocolate factory v.s willy wonka.
Everything is really easy in these novels, however IN REALITY, nothing is ever that easy, actually, I take that back, some people do find love easily (if this is you, know that i am eternally jealous) but for the rest of us (including myself), love isn’t that easy to find. Sure you can find someone and fall quite quickly, but you don’t just go through 1 or 2 life hurdles. No, life has many more hurdles and Everything Changes depicts just that. It depicts the story of young love, and the very long and hard journey in finding happiness. It shows how many hurdles and hoops you have to jump through to find your happily ever after, and no this book along with many others is not perfect. It does have its irregularities but I DON’T CARE because I enjoyed it.
I know that some people will argue that sometimes the point in reading is to have that escape and that leaves us hopeful in finding love, but I stand by my stance in saying that these plotlines get boring and they need to deviate from the norm. Anyway enough about my rant, time to move on.
Lets get down to business
Initially in writing this review so many things ran through my mind, first thing to address: I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DESCRIBE THIS. I JUST DON’T KNOW. My thoughts are sort of all over the place. Never have I been so confundled in trying to write a review, this is a good thing as it means that there are many aspects to this novel that I want to describe but just can’t. How can I describe a hundred different thoughts running through my mind? Its like I cant get the words out, my mind is literally swarming. I know, I know, I currently sound like a looney, bear with me people, I will get there.
Everything Changes revolves around 2 main things: Love and Motorbikes. Motorbikes.. what? Yes, motorbikes. The beginning of each chapter introduces you to a new motorbike related term and is accompanied by a definition, so if you are looking to pick up that motorbike crazy hunk you have been eyeing off for a while, this is the book for you 😉 JUST KIDDING, there is more to this book than that, but by all means if that helps you, use it 😛 The emphasis on motorbikes is influenced by the main characters, Rowan Jensen and Parker O’Neil.
Parker is in his teens when we first meet him. He has a passion for racing and is a quiet, almost introverted character. He acts shy but as you grow to learn he isn’t actually shy, he just doesn’t say a lot. Parker doesn’t create small talk or talk for the sake of talking, because that isn’t who he is. When Parker says something, you know that what he says is constructed with a lot of thought behind it. Anyway, Parker has these boyish qualities about him and has plenty of the girls at school crushing on him, however the story hardly focuses on school. It focuses solely on Parker and his one and only, Rowan.
From what I have written so far, it seems like the novel is written from Parker’s POV, when actually it is written from Rowan’s perspective. Near the middle to the end of the book, you do get a glimpse inside Parker’s mind. HURRAH.
Everything Changes is structured entirely different from the plethora of romance novels out there. Each chapter is almost like a page in a journal, each chapter is date stamped and their story spans a period of 5 years 1997 – 2002 and I think the last two chapters are a few years after 2002. Although long and somewhat vague (because it was such a long time period and you didn’t know what was going on in between years), I felt that it gave Rowan and Parker’s relationship a lot of depth. It also depicted how time and life factors influenced their relationship and changed it over this time frame, from when it began as a first, young love and evolved into something a lot more meaningful.
Once in a while the book flips to Parker’s POV. If you have read any of my reviews before you will know that I LOVE reading alternate POVs. I especially love reading any books written from a males perspective, I find it really interesting. But returning to my point, I seriously love alternating POV, like a fat kid loves cake – actually I lie, like any person loves cake. Although we only get short glimpses inside of Parker’s mind, what you read really helps to understand him as a character and the depth of the love he holds for Rowan.
Rowan Jensen and Parker meet at her step fathers custom repair shop, where Parker is a mechanic. Anyway, after months of staring at each other and trading glances, Rowan’s best friend Addy intervenes and tells Rowan that she organised for the both of them to go on the road with Parker and his brother Justin, It is on this road trip that they really get to know each other and their relationship is formed actually formed is not a strong enough word, I mean cemented – yeah that’s better.
When they get back from their road trip, Parker gets a call that pretty much marks the beginning of the end. For Parker his career is just beginning to take off, and for them both, this meant that Parker would be constantly on the road. Leaving there relationship, pretty much undefined. Uh oh.
On the road, their love was tumultuous, it was a constant tug and pull roller coaster ride of emotions. Where no matter what happened, you knew that both their hearts would up broken and bruised. Their relationship wasn’t full of anger or abuse or yelling or anything like that, by tumultuous I meant that their love sure as hell wasn’t easy. At such a young age, when you are given your dream career on a platter, there is a 99.9% chance that you are going to grab the opportunity. At the time, Parker believed choosing his career over being with Rowan was the right decision. Being young and in love he believed he could have his cake and eat it too, that he could race and still have Rowan at the same time.
Parker is a deep and highly thoughtful character, who didn’t let the artificial things in life affect him. Sure money was good, but Parker raced because he was passionate about it and he loved Rowan with the full extent of his heart, because he was crazy about her. Being on the road, Parker hardly called Rowan and it makes you question if love really is enough? Parker and Rowan were both so young and were each others first love. Add to that the questions surrounding the state of their relationship and you pretty much have a fucking terrible situation.
As much as I thought it was strange that Parker never called, I loved everything other aspect of him. It wasn’t because of his looks or status, it was his personality. Reading their story, you notice that a lot of their relationship is built on observation and their intense chemistry. I would say that a majority of the novel is observation and there isn’t a lot of dialogue. However, it worked out well as you really get to know Parker from Rowan’s observations. Parker is handsome… real handsome, and had girls pretty much throwing themselves at him, especially on the road, yet he didn’t care a bar for it. Why? Because he was in love and 100% committed to Rowan. Even after years on the road, for Parker, it was and would always be Rowan.
However, the biggest problem in their relationship was a major lack communication. Rowan was constantly waiting for Parker to call her from the road. She waited to hear Parker’s voice, and hoped to hear that he still loved and wanted her, but Parker being Parker never said the things she wanted to hear. He couldn’t get all of his feelings out, and I felt like Parker thought that Rowan should have known what she meant to him, BUT we all know that knowing and hearing are two seperate things. As they lacked the ability to communicate with one another, they didn’t know what they wanted from each other. Parker held out from calling Rowan (I can’t remember why) and when he couldn’t hold it anymore, he caved and he would call her. He went by something along the lines of, if she doesn’t answer that’s it, we will be done. But every time he called she answered and Rowan went to him, wherever he was. She would stay for a night or two and then head back home. and they did this for years. Both their lives were stuck on each other and holding out for the little time they spent together and they did this FOR YEARS. The constant back and fourth with each other. I know that this situation may or may not seem realistic where they don’t communicate but the realistic part is holding out for a long distance relationship and being so young, there is a constant array of factors interfering with this: travel, time, not seeing each other, putting one aspect of your life on hold cause your waiting for the other person and of course, other people.
To outsiders, it honestly seemed like Rowan was just a booty call and to Rowan, well Rowan had not idea what she was to Parker which lead her to evaluate and question her life. Who wants to be the girl who puts her life aside to follow someone else around, watching their dreams come true, while beings stuck in the same situation. The future holds no guarantees in determining how your relationship will be in a few days, weeks, months and years. Its a freaking gamble to put your life on hold to follow another persons, and at such a young age, making that move seemed almost stupid. How long can you expect a relationship to last if you never hear from someone?There are so many parts in this book where I felt that if I were Rowan or Parker, I would have given up.
As much as I loved them together, the constant travel coupled with the periods of not hearing from your partner made me struggle to see how they both could put themselves through the constant tug and pull of their love. I don’t think I could just wait for him to be done with his life so that I could start mine. BUT here is where the messed up aspect appears in all this. I have two words for you: Sean Thomas.
Sean is technically Rowan’s boyfriend who she started ‘dating’ after Parker went away. I use this term very loosely as Rowan doesn’t love Sean at all, however they date for years while Parker is away. Rowan is with Sean because he provides her with a safety net, a form of stability and normalcy, and Rowan knows that he will always be there for her. Being with Sean is a sure thing, with Parker.. Rowan didn’t know.
Somehow through all the years Parker knows. He knows Rowan has someone, yet he can’t let her go and she can’t let him go either. Somehow and I don’t know how but Rowan stays with Sean for years and although she doesn’t love him, they end up living together
REALLY?! YES REALLY, I was freaking pissed. P.I.S.S.E.D! I didn’t understand Rowan, and I felt bad for both Parker and Sean. She had two people’s lives in her hands and she didn’t even know how much of a tangled web she was weaving. This situation coupled with the fact that she never once called Parker while he was on the road and waited for him to call her just mad me MAD. WHY did she keep waiting for him to initiate everything?! Now, this is where I felt there was a one sided relationship. Why was it always Parker? Rowan almost blames Parker for their situation, when all Rowan had to do was PICK UP THE GOD DAMN PHONE AND CALL HIM!
Then when we do get a glimpse inside Parker’s mind and we are able to see things from his perspective, It felt like Rowan literally had his heart. If she had of called, he would have left everything for her but she never called. And when they did meet up, they never talked it through, and I felt like Rowan was running rings around Parker and Parker was stuck there with no moves, waiting for Rowan to decide (and Rowan was pretty much waiting for Parker to decide and they never communicated and they both didnt know, FML I was mad). Because I am mad, please accpet my GIF of Rowan running rings around Parker, while I compose my thoughts
Anyway there is a lot more I could go into, and I won’t tell you what ends up happening with the two, but I will end this saying why I enjoyed Everything Changes.
It is the way the book is written, the writing focuses on Rowan describing her surroundings, her emotions, feelings and thoughts. There isn’t a lot of interchanging dialogue, as Rowan’s relationship with Parker is focused a lot on their connection. How a person makes you feel not necessarily what they say. Its the feelings, the little glimpses, the touches and how Rowan remembers everything Parker has ever said to her. Their love was such a first love full of firsts, and although Parker was always on the road and their lack of communication made me mad and made me want to hate Parker and Rowan, Parker would redeem himself and give Rowan a little look/wink or just something that makes you go aw man.. Parker won me over.. again and again and again.
Everything Changes shows how love is not an easy journey, it shows how love doesn’t come easy and how there are many obstacles in finding and sustaining love. I think a lot of criticism will come from the fact that the love depicted between Rowan and Parker is not easy. We all love to read about happy stories, however Everything Changes shows how difficult it is to sustain a love at such a young age, the difficulties such as long distance, trying to maintain a career and the obstacles of other people interfering in each others lives. I will say that i feel like a lot of people will not understand this book and will have issues with the fact that there isn’t as much conversation between the two of them and will question why they are together. But that sort of question is a surface level kind of thing, if you look and think about deeper things you will understand my point. However, if you are willing to overlook a few errors and discrepancies in the story line I feel that you will enjoy this book as much as I did. I think Stahl did a brilliant job in writing a very interesting story line that was pretty much based solely on just two people alone, it gave a girl like me something new and intriguing to read and I really enjoyed that.
And I will leave you all with this one GIF that depicts how I feel about Everything Changes:
If you are interested in reading Everything Changes, head on over to Amazon to download a free sample chapter to get a feel of what the book is about. Let me know if you have read it and what your thoughts are about it. Have a wonderful day/night people! Until next time.