Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 1st 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format read: ARC via publisher
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
Nicola Yoon has written a uniquely beautiful tale, about one girl's journey into friendship and love, which helps open up an entire new world for her, and for readers everywhere.
Things that worked:
Seventeen-year-old Madeline "Maddy" Whittier has spent her life living indoors. Her life has largely been a lonely one, where her mother, nurse and Skype classes make up the bulk of her existence, but Maddy has maintained an optimistic outlook on life.
It's easy to assume that anyone who has spent their life being sheltered inside will likely be morose or dramatically clueless, but Yoon proves that there's another alternative in the vibrant, likable Maddy. Even though she has spent her life being isolated from others, she's still intuitive and curious, and not afraid to seek out her interests and the world around her.
Maddy is especially adept at realizing that there's a world off difference between what she reads about in books, and actually living a life. It's touching to see her struggle to acheive the goal of experiencing everything first hand, and readers will likely feel both sympathy and a surprising amount of joy at seieng the lengths that she's willing to go to, to make those dreams happen.
Yoon decides to utilize a unique storytelling style for Everything, Everything; she alternates between short, choppy chapters, intermixed with visual aides - e.g. IMs and drawings, as illustrated by Nicola's husband, David Yoon.
This narrative approach not only livens up the text, but is also a subtle acknowlegement to the type of life that Maddy has endured for the last seventeen years. Because she isn't able to go out and experience normal conversations and interactions like other teens, much of her life is defined by everything that's within her reach.
Bottom line: Readers will likely appreciate both the unique approach, and its ability to really put them in Maddy's mind.
The relationship factor, or why Olly is awesome
I'll be honest: I think I've hit the point in my life, where I've just become really picky about liking male YA love interests. A significant number of them are either too perfect, or too rebel without a cause, for me.
Which is why, I really sincerely liked Olly. Yoon shows us off the bat, that this is a regular, goofy kid who isn't afraid to be silly and charming, to get the attention of the girl who's caught his interest.
(Seriously, I will never look at a bundt cake the same way, ever again.)
But at the same time, Yoon makes it clear that this is also a young man, who's learning how to be a man for the sake of his family, and for Maddy. He has his own drama and problems, and we see how the relationship between the two of them, helps both of them learn to be a little braver about their own issues.
While this is very much Maddy's story, we see how the two of them help each other, and it's something I wholeheartedly appreciate when it comes to positive, realistic depictions of young love.
The parental factor:
Maddy has two very key parental relationships throughout the book: the relationship with her mother, and the relationship with her long-time nurse, Carla.
Yoon does a wonderful job of showing how these two women are uniquely supportive of Maddy, but also how they too, are infalliable and prone to mistakes. We see Carla go to extraordinary lengths to help Maddy experience the ups and downs of a normal teen, while Maddy's mother proves that sometimes, it's possible to love someone in the wrong way.
Yoon has written an open-ended ending that's full of promise and possibility. We don't necessarily know how things will pan out for Maddy or Olly, but it's the possiblity that makes it all worth it.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
I've seen a few reviews question Maddy and Olly's relationshp, and how they seemed to instantaneously seemed to fall for one another.
While I do agree that their relationship progressed quickly, I also think that it's part of the inherent beauty of the story. Yoon recognizes that Maddy and Olly are both at stages in their lives, where they need someone to protect and to rely on. Their relationship challenges both of them to be better and strive for more, including taking risks - e.g. a subplot involving Olly's family - to find their own happiness.
It's an important lesson, but not one that is always shared in YA. I applaud Yoon for bringing this to younger readers in such a unique way.
Nicola Yoon has created a story with an intriguing premise, that gradually evolves into a beautiful reminder on what it means to be inspired by love and to take risks in life. Maddy's journey begins as a unique one, but she also shares some much needed, much appreciated, life-lessons along the way.
I strongly recommend this book for fans of contemporary fiction, especially for readers who are looking for brave, unique young heroines. Maddy is the girl for you.
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