I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Illustrator: David Yoon
Also by this author: The Sun Is Also a Star
Published by Doubleday Canada on September 1st 2015
Genres: Friendship, Imagination & Play, New Experience, Social Issues, Young Adult
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My disease is as rare as it is famous. It's a form of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, but basically, I'm allergic to the world. I don't leave my house, have not left my house in fifteen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then one day, a moving truck arrives. New next door neighbors. I look out the 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. I want to learn everything about him, and I do. I learn that he is funny and fierce. I learn that his eyes are Atlantic Ocean-blue and that his vice is stealing silverware. I learn that when I talk to him, my whole world opens up, and I feel myself starting to change--starting to want things. To want out of my bubble. To want everything, everything the world has to offer. 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.
“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
It seems completely appropriate to begin a review of debut author Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything with a quote from her main character Madeline Whittier’s favorite book, The Little Prince. Everything, Everything is the kind of book that you feel with the heart. It is the kind of book that will worm its way into your soul and take up residence there. In short, this book is everything. Chances are plenty of reviewers will say that it IS EVERYTHING and they are correct and that is a sentiment I will get on board with completely.
Madeline has SCID which means, in short, that she is allergic to pretty much everything ever. She cannot remember ever leaving the house. She only interacts with her mother and her nurse, Carla. She takes all of her classes online skyping with various tutors. Maddy’s life is about to change completely. A modern day bubble girl, when a family moves in next door, Maddy can’t help but be curious and sit and watch and observe. She sees Kara, the young girl who smokes. She sees the put upon mother who seems meek. She sees the angry father. And she sees Olly, dressed in all black with ocean eyes. As it turns out, Olly sees Maddy too. Through notes drawn on windows and IM, Maddy and Olly begin to form this bond and to fall in love. Maddy is convinced that this cannot end well, given her condition. What she’s about to discover is that the world is Everything, Everything and she wants to live and love and experience it all. As one of the characters, Carla, says, “life is a gift.”
To know Maddy is to love Maddy. This is a girl who is different from you and me in one key way – she’s never been outside the house. As much as I love to pretend I am a hermit with my holing up with books for a weekend or so, I at least have the choice to leave the house without fear of getting sick. Maddy does not have that choice. In other key ways though, Maddy is not so different. She loves books. Her favorite book of all time, ever, is The Little Prince which is a theme that we are going to see repeated throughout the book. We are going to see Maddy look for her rose, so to speak. What I loved reading was how Maddy reads her favorite books over and over and over again and gets something new out of it every time. I think that Yoon’s Everything, Everything is the sort of book that you can read and gain new perspective from, much like Maddy. Furthermore, she has a habit of writing her name inside the cover her books along with a list of things you win if you find the book that had once belonged to her. Maddy is a special character that I will absolutely not be forgetting and her experiences interacting with the world are nothing short of poignant.
Olly, the boy that Maddy falls for, plays quite the role in Everything, Everything. I wouldn’t say that he’s swoonworthy. However, I get why Maddy is willing to risk everything for him. Their romance is one that is sweet and new and delicate. It is one that will remind you of your first love and the risks youths are willing to take. It’s the kind of romance that unfolds over emails and google chat and more. It is impossible to read this book and not root for Maddy and Olly, despite the idea that their relationship seems doomed from the start. Maddy believes Olly will want a girl that he can interact with in the outside world. Olly has got a lot going on, dealing with an abusive father and all. Yet, this is a book where we see that maybe love can conquer all. There’s this irrepressible optimism throughout the book and I will admit to be infected by it.
There are small truths peppered throughout Yoon’s writing. When Maddy finds her courage, when she braves the most terrifying thing, there was this kernel of truth to it. Everything, Everything made me think of that adage ‘do something every day that scares you.’ I found myself wanting to high five Maddy, even though my germs would probably mess up her immune system. I found myself wanting to dog ear pages of this book – especially as I could relate to Maddy’s love of books and her love of life in general. Further, this book, told in first person, contains illustrations by Yoon’s husband, David Yoon which take this book up to next level status. Rather than detract and distract, the illustrations really add in a special touch to the book. For a beautifully written young adult book with one of the best characters you will meet all year, add Everything, Everything to your nightstand reading pile. You will not regret it.