"Everything, Everything" by Nicola Yoon
Madeline Whittier is a smart, funny, typical teenage girl. Except for one thing - she cannot go outside. Maddy has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) meaning that her immune system is so comprised, the outside air could kill her. And so she spends her life in her house and other than her mother and nurse Carla, with very little human contact.
That is until a new family moves in next door and Maddy lays eyes on their teenage son Olly. Dressed all in black, Olly is mysterious and Maddy is intrigued. They make a connection online but Maddy knows she wants more. She gets her wish but it comes with repercussions. She makes the decision to take a giant step toward living the life she wants but what happens next will change her life forever.
Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon, is a stunning and original Young Adult novel about love against the odds and risking everything for the life you want. Complete with illustrations and conversations through email and messenger, you don’t feel like you’re reading a novel, you feel like you’re reading someone’s journal.
I typically only gravitate toward Young Adult novels when there is a certain premise to it, which is usually either diversity or a unique situation (illness, mental health, etc.) and this book has both of those so I knew that this is one I would enjoy. I didn’t know just how much I would enjoy it though. I was blown away this book.
Madeline is a character that you can’t help but become attached to. Not just because of her illness but because of her bravery, her positivity, and her determination to build as normal a life as she can - one that includes love. The character Olly comes with his own difficulties in life and I appreciate that he had depth to him and a backstory that made him more than just the love interest. And I loved Maddy’s nurse Carla, she is just what Maddy needs.
The plot of the book does become predictable at times. There are points where it seems as though things progress rather fast, but I do remember being a teenager and isn’t that kind of how life goes at the age anyway, especially when it comes to falling in love. Early on it was easy to see where the buildup was leading to but that never ruins the book. This is a page-turner and because of the inclusion of illustrations, journal entries, etc., this book is a very quick read. It is definitely one that you can read over the course of a day. And you will probably want to do that because you will find yourself not wanting to put it down.
This was a five-star read for me. I don’t know where to put it in the context of the YA genre (though early reviews seem to say that it will be one of the best of 2015) but in terms of reading a book that isn’t necessarily aimed at your age group, this is one I would recommend. It is great to see a main character who is Black and Japanese in a book aimed at younger readers. And the wonderful thing is, it’s only mentioned once. That isn’t the focus of the book, it’s just who she is. Our younger generations need and deserve more characters like this. Madeline’s diagnosis and disease put an interesting twist on the typical teenage romance story and there are many more issues that take place in this book that I won’t mention due to spoiler alerts. What I can say is, I think this book will be on a lot of “Best of 2015” lists.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada. The opinions expressed above are my own.