Delacorte Books for Young Readers
September 1, 2015
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
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's debut Everything, Everything is a book that is a book where it's not only possible to pick it up and read it right through to the end, but very easy to do so. The combination of Madeline, her unique circumstances, the short chapters and the inclusion of emails, illustrations, lists, etc, all work together to pull you right into the story.
Madeline spends her life in her house - her whole, entire life. Suffering from SCID, an immune disorder, merely stepping out her front door could, theoretically, kill her. They don't know just what all is a problem for Madeline, so everything is. And she avoids it.
I enjoyed the picture Yoon painted of Madeline's life. While she does have a very limited life, it is not altogether lacking. She has things she enjoys, things to do and has almost managed to stop thinking about life outside.
Until Olly moves in across the street. He has her attention from the moment the truck pulls into the driveway. He's something she is sure she can't have, but wants anyway.
Even when everything seems impossible (Madeline's sick, Olly's outside, etc), you pull for them to work things out somehow. To find a way for her to still be 'safe' and alive, but for Olly to be a part of her life.
Their interactions are very creative and fun, both for how they are written/who the characters are and for how the author handles their interactions and how they occur.
I did not always agree wit the characters, with their attitudes or outlooks on life (like, "You're not living if you're not regretting" [p 186]), but they all seemed to stay true to the characters and fit within the story. It is really appreciated that the uniqueness and originality of the characters doesn't simply rely on Madeline's illness. There are their tastes in books, their views on math, on reading, their hobbies, their goals and the roles they each play in the others' lives. The novel has very well done characters.
The only thing that may keep this from being one of my favorite reads of this year, was the ending. It worked and there was nothing technically wrong with it but I do not like it. It undid some of the things I liked best about Everything, Everything and what it had to say.
Though, in following Madeline's advice when she says, "You should try again. The meaning changes every time you read it." (p 200), I may reread it in the future.
As she says, "...Like every time I've read it before, the meaning changes." (p 301) and I know even if it doesn't end up changing for me, you may see it differently.
Spoilery Question . . . (mouseover)