Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 1, 2015
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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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.
My review (first shared September 9, 2015):
Everything, Everything is a delightful read with extremely likable characters. The book is written in first-person perspective by way of internal dialogue as well as emails and text messages between Maddie and the boy next door, Olly. It is also filled with sketches and Maddie’s “dictionary” and her Life is Short spoiler book reviews - “Lord of the Flies by William Golding - Spoiler Alert: Boys are savages.”
The plot is a bit improbable - after all, how many people in the world actually have SCID, the bubble baby disease - but Maddie’s diagnosis makes for a great plot device to introduce her as the curious, naive personality who falls in love with the boy next door. While Maddie has had no physical contact with the world outside her home, she’s made lots of “friends” and has built quite the online reputation through social media outlets and her Life is Short book reviews. When the quirky boy moves in next door with his family, including an alcoholic, abusive father, Maddie tries not to notice him. She knows in her head that getting involved with anyone in the outside world is futile. But her heart has other ideas. When Olly stages a series of utterly charming stunts to get her attention, Maddie’s heart wins out over her head and she starts communicating with him. At first only online but soon enough Maddie’s nurse helps her sneak Olly in to visit (albeit after a session in a decontamination chamber).
Ms. Yoon’s writing is thoroughly endearing. Even with the twist at the end, you root for Maddie and Olly and their unconventional relationship against almost insurmountable odds. Even unlikable characters (who I can’t name without giving too much away) are handled with heart and dignity. This first novel from Nicola Yoon is an absolute delight! I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for her readers!
2022 Note: Read my review of her 2021 release, Instructions for Dancing, here.
Author’s site: https://www.nicolayoon.com/