All I Want Is Everything (2003), the third young adult novel in Cecily Von Ziegesar’s widely popular Gossip Girl series, centers on the romantic affairs of the series’ protagonist, Blair Waldorf and her universe of friends. As she prepares for college, Blair faces difficulties in balancing her long-term personal goals and her desire to be happy in the present. The novel also traces the paths of her ex-boyfriend, new stepbrother, and best friend, who are entangled in equally difficult relationships. The novel and series have been acclaimed for bringing themes such as individual fulfillment, sexuality, and the importance of kindness and openness to literary audiences, particularly in America and Europe.
As did its predecessors, the novel opens with an excerpt from the online gossip website “Gossip Girl.” The website is run by an anonymous person who posts salacious commentary and rumors about people, referring to them only by their initials. The narrator identifies the primary subjects: B stands for Blair, the rich protagonist; N stands for her ex-boyfriend, Nate, a pothead who is now dating Jenny, represented as J. S is Jenny’s best friend, Serena. A is Aaron, Blair’s stepbrother who developed a crush on her after joining the family. D is Jenny’s brother, Dan, who aspires to become a poet and is also dating Vanessa, V, a hopeful amateur filmmaker.
The novel begins in the months leading up to Christmas. The characters have various travel plans that mostly involve going to meet family abroad. Blair and Aaron plan to meet their parents Eleanor and Cyrus (Blair’s mother and Aaron’s father, respectively) on the French-speaking island of St. Barts, where they are on honeymoon. Blair and Aaron are told that they can each invite a friend. Blair chooses Serena, while Aaron brings along his rich friend Miles who also has a crush on Blair. Blair’s plans for Christmas break are somewhat complicated by her simultaneous effort to polish her application to her father’s former university, Yale, and give herself the best chance she can. When her first draft is rejected, she has to start all over again. This nearly causes her to drop her plans to go to St. Barts until Serena begs her to go.
Meanwhile, Serena has a prerogative for going abroad. She has recently become the romantic target of a well-known pop star, who contacts her incessantly. Nate and Jenny, meanwhile, are getting closer to each other, though Nate, viewing the relationship more platonically than Jenny, is oblivious that she is falling irrevocably in love with him. Dan is trying to overcome a case of writer’s block, which he theorizes has been caused by unfulfilled sexual energies. Vanessa, more experienced in the realm of sexuality, is trying to manage to build her relationship and her career as a filmmaker at the same time.
Soon, events unfold which alarm each of the characters, forcing them to adapt and, for some, reconceive their future plans. Besides her essay trouble, Blair is startled to hear that her mother is pregnant. Serena is falling in love with Aaron, who is upset and guilty due to his attraction for Blair, knowing that Miles likes her. In Central Park, Vanessa films Nate and Jenny hooking up; the video makes it to the Internet, where it is rapidly disseminated, causing problems for Jenny in her hometown. Miraculously, Dan’s writer’s block ends abruptly after he writes a stream of consciousness poem excoriating the women in his life for acting in ways that he believes are overly promiscuous. Vanessa loves the poem and believes it is artistically written, submitting it for publication despite Dan’s resentment.
At the end of the novel, Serena and Blair return to New York. Blair isolates herself to finish her college essay, and Serena organizes a party for New Year’s Eve. Most of the subjects of the Gossip Girl diaries run into each other at the party. Serena finally offs the obsessive musician, hooking up with Aaron instead. Blair and Jenny finally get over their destructive attractions to Nate. In the final scene, Dan and Vanessa are in Central Park, where Vanessa is filming. He realizes suddenly how talented she really is and expresses his love for her. She echoes his sentiments, and they kiss.All I Want is Everything
closes out with another entry from the Gossip Girl web column. The column vaguely hints at future plot lines and summarizes open questions about the group of loosely related people who are connected mainly through Blair. A novel about the dynamic and aspirational qualities of young people, von Ziegesar demonstrates how they constantly loop between competition and reconciliation without an endgame in sight.