Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. I have been waiting for this book for what feels like FOR-EV-ER.
Madeline Whittier is 17-years old and never leaves the house. Literally. She stays inside, in her white room with her white bookcases and white walls. She is not a loner, or I guess she is but not on purpose, but suffers from an exceptionally rare disease called SCID, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. SCID essentially makes Madeline allergic to the world and any little thing could kill her.
Madeline’s only human contact is with her mother, who happens to be a doctor which is nice when you have a life-threatening illness, and her nurse, Carla. Madeline has an active online presence where she interacts with friends and writes about books but actual, physical, in-the-world friendships are impossible. Madeline understands that her life is not normal but she is surprisingly well adjusted. Madeline is an observer of life, not a participant but, is anything out there worth dying for? She doesn’t miss the world because she has never known the world.
Madeline’s carefully managed expectations for life begin to dissolve with the arrival of new neighbors. Olly and his family move in across the street from Madeline and she is almost immediately drawn to them. She sees Olly climb up on his roof every night and his sister sneak cigarettes on the porch, she hears their parents arguing and wonders what it would be like to be that alive. Olly and Madeline have windows that face each other and end up becoming friends via online chat. With every interaction, Olly begins to bring color into Madeline’s blank world. Eventually she reveals her illness and they each have to deal with their attraction to one another. Madeline begins to wonder, what if there is something out there worth risking her life for? And what if it is love?
I loved this novel. I read it in one day. Yoon writes characters that are heart-breakingly real. The love story between Madeline and Olly is refreshing and feels very genuine. There is a major twist in the novel and even though I kind of guessed it halfway through, the repercussions were still breathtaking and incredibly moving. I always enjoy dystopian and fantasy novels but it amazes me when an author can take a story of ordinary life and humans, and make them new and extraordinary. That is what Yoon has done with Everything, Everything and you should definitely put it on your list.
(Shout-outs: I had a hard time writing this report because I couldn’t get Christina and Nafiza’s fantastic reviews out of my head. Check out what Christina thought at Girl in Pages and Nafiza is over at The Book Wars.)