Published by Delacorte Press
Published on September 1st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Realistic FIction, Romance, Young Adult
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.
Contemporary YA Romance is a difficult genre for me. I love action and fast pace in my books; that suspense and excitement is usually what makes me really invested in the story and the characters. But a book that focuses primarily on romantic relationships doesn’t have that fast pace and thrill. So it’s often hard for me to get invested in the characters of a romance novel. But Everything, Everything had such fantastic characterization that I didn’t need a thrilling plot to get invested in the story.
The premise is really fascinating. A girl named Maddy has SCID, which basically means that she gets severely ill very often, without knowing what causes it. So she’s confined to her room, with air filters and regular checkups, and lives her entire life inside, going through the same routine day after day. Then, one day, a family moves into the neighboring house. From her window, Maddy sees a teenage boy, and they make eye contact. She knows that she’s going to fall in love with him, and that it will be a spectacular failure.
This premise really interests me, because I am always intrigued by forbidden love, or love that is impossible to work out in the end. There’s so many ways a book could shape that premise into a story; is there a tragic ending? Do the characters go through with the relationship even if it’s forbidden? Can they figure out a way to make it work? So this kind of premise really keeps me guessing, because the story could branch out in many different ways.
By far the biggest strength of this book was the characterization. Maddy is a girl that you instantly sympathize with. Try to put yourself in her shoes. Your father and brother died when you were young, you were diagnosed with SCID, and you are forced to live your life in a white room, reading books, talking to your mom, and eating the same things over and over again. No trips to the beach, no concerts, no school, nothing. I immediately felt drawn to her and her story. I was also impressed by her positive attitude; she never whined or complained, she just accepted her life and approached it with a positive state of mind.
Then Olly moves into the house adjacent to her. How awesome is Olly? He’s a mathlete who loves parkour and has a devilishly charming smile. He always wears black and wears a cap because he thinks his hair is embarrassing. He’s caring, compassionate, and has a dorky sense of humor. I can say all these great things about him, but words don’t do him justice. You have to read about him, to experience him for yourself, to really understand what a stand-up guy Olly Bright is.
Two outstanding characters individually, Maddy and Olly are one unforgettable pairing. Their relationship develops slowly, teasingly, as they communicate to each other from their windows and through IM. Maddy’s nurse, Carla, occasionally allows them to see each other in person, with strict rules and restrictions. Maddy and Olly’s conversations and encounters are lovely, and it becomes very evident that they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Maddy is Olly’s rock; someone he can turn to in the midst of his troubled family life for support and comfort. Olly is to Maddy a reminder that there is more to life than just surviving. They say love can kill you. But love can also make you feel alive.
As they experiment with their relationship, they experience highs and lows, and I was with them for every up and every down, feeling what they felt and being a part of their lives. There’s triumph and glory, but there’s heartbreak and collapse too. Everything, Everything is an emotional roller coaster ride, but it’s a ride worth taking. The ending is unexpected, but very fitting and appropriate. It gives readers satisfying closure, but also opens a door of possibilities.
You’d never believe this is Nicola Yoon’s debut from the way she writes. Her prose is fluid and easy to read. It’s simple enough, but powerful, thought-provoking, and beautiful. I also love that there are drawings in the book- I thought they really enhanced the reading experience. I also loved the addition of the instant message transcripts between Olly and Maddy. Their back and forth was was really insightful and so lovely to read. It made me appreciate them more as a couple.
Everything, Everything is more than just a tale of love. It’s a tale of life, and a reminder that surviving is not the same thing as living. As someone wise once told me, you shouldn’t be counting your days. You should be making them count. And we all still have a lot more life to live. No matter how much time I spend on this review, I will not be able to express to you in words how much I enjoyed it. I can only hope that all of you will get a chance to read it, and that you’ll fall in love with the story of Maddy and Olly, just as I did.
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