Everything, Everything by Nicole Yoon
There’s more to life than being alive.
I couldn’t decide which book to bring on a flight to New Orleans with me, so in true over-packer fashion, so I brought three. But Everything, Everything was the one that kept me company the whole way there. I read it in one long sitting.
It’s a great plane book in that it engages you right away. The opening sentences:
I’ve read more books than you. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read. I’ve read more. Believe me. I’ve had the time.
Madeline Whittier has SCID, or Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (think bubble boy disease), meaning that she’s allergic to basically everything. For the last seventeen years of her life, she has been confined to her decontaminated, air-filtered house with only her mother and day nurse for company.
She’s relatively content with her bubbled existence until a new boy movies in next door: Olly Bright. They catch each other’s eyes as Maddie peers through the living room window, and I bet you can guess what happens next.
Spoiler alert: Love is worth everything. Everything.
So here’s the thing. This is a hard book for me to review because there were parts of it that I loved and part of it that I thought were very unexceptional.
The romance between Olly and Maddie didn’t do anything for me. I hate to say it, but it was very TFIOSy in a doomed, star-crossed lovers way. Olly essentially falls in instalove with Maddie after seeing her through the window one time. They mime some jokes about bunt cakes. Olly is that perfect 17-year old blend of brooding eloquence and sexy compassion that literally does not exist outside of a YA shelf. I wouldn’t have mined this instalove if I felt that Maddie and Olly had much chemistry, but I just didn’t see what drew them together or made the compatible.
You can’t predict the future. It turns out that you can’t predict the past either. Time moves in both directions – forward and backward – and what happens here and now changes them both.
I much more enjoyed the storyline involving Maddie, her illness and her mother. Their relationship was well-developed and complex, and overall very well-constructed. There is a Big Twist here, and I think how you feel about the book will ultimately depend on how you feel about the Big Twist. I personally really, really liked it — partially because I could almost-guess it, and partially because it just kind of blew my mind. I just wish the twist had come earlier in the book, because I think there was a lot left unexplored in the aftermath.
I do think Nicola Yoon is a really great writer. The book is very well-written, and I’ve tried to include quotes in this review that exemplify that. I would’ve liked this book a lot more without the romance. I think it works better as a character study of Maddie and her mother, and the effects of illness on family dynamics.
Everything’s a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.
Have you read Everything, Everything? Let me know your thoughts!