Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, via Doubleday Canada, out now.
[I received this book from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review; this did not affect my opinion of the book whatsoever.]
Everything, Everything is the kind of book that affirms my love of YA. Here’s why:
- I instantly fell in love with the main character, Madeline (or, Maddy) for her cute and cheeky voice.
- I empathized for her because she was stuck in a tragic situation and I was rooting for a hope.
- I inhaled this book as fast as I could because I was addicted to its storytelling.
- Instant messages! Emails! Notes!
- It’s about overcoming something, or finding ways around it.
- It tackles big issues – I find, at least with the kinds of books I read these days, that YA seems to be so fascinating because it is showing what the world is like in all its intensity, showing first times and exploration, whereas regular adult fiction is just about an escape for the reader or more regular adult lifestyle.
- There’s diversity! Madeline is half African American, half Japanese. (Nicola is African American and her husband is Korean American, their daughter is mixed. Nicola is a big voice for the #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks movement.)
- There’s that gut-wrenching pinch towards the end.
- It’s hella cute.
Madeline is stuck in her house. Not just as in she’s grounded, the way most teenagers think they are when they’re punished. Madeline is really stuck, and has been since she was a child. She suffers from a condition called SCID, basically an immune disorder that decides her body is allergic to everything. The only people she has to talk to are her mom and her nurse, Carla. Being 18 and all, she’s getting restless and lonely. So neighbours moving in next door, just outside her window, is the perfect distraction from re-reading books, playing board games with her protective mother and doing online homework. Her window really does open her to a new view. That view includes Olly, a white guy teenager who’s got that brooding high school emo/skater punk thing going on. Madeline can hear his dad yelling a lot and see Olly often climb up to the roof to escape. One day, Olly writes his email address on his window. The relationship between Madeline and Olly quickly progresses from there.
Everything, Everything was one of the more enjoyable reads of my year so far. I liked the intrigue of the book, in the sense that for a while you are wondering ‘what will happen to Madeline if she can’t leave her house? What will happen in the story because of this?’. I also really liked the relationship between Madeline and Olly – though maybe too perfect to be realistic (I don’t care, it’s cute!). Clearly two 18-year-olds experiencing feelings of any kind is going to be extreme. The dynamic between Madeline and her mother is interesting, too. I don’t want to give much away, but I do want to say reading this book was addictive! The story flowed easily and was nicely broken up by instant messages, emails, notes and drawings. Really the only thing that bothered me was the ending, it still doesn’t sit quite right with me. It wasn’t terrible, and I can see why it ended the way it did, but there were a couple issues.(So if you’ve read the book, I want to discuss!) One of those being I didn’t want it to be over, I wanted to keep reading!
Since it’s already a new heavy hitter in YA, the film rights have been picked up for Everything, Everything, so I am eager to see the story’s ‘next’ chapter.
Before Carla arrives the next morning I spend exactly thirteen minutes in bed convinced that I’m getting sick. It takes her exactly six minutes to un-convince me. She takes my temperature, blood pressure, heart and pulse rates before declaring that I am simply lovesick.
“Classic symptoms,” she says.
“I’m not in love, I can’t be in love.”
“And why not?”
“What would be the point?” I say, throwing my hands up. “Me in love would be like being a food critic with no taste buds. It would be like being a color-blind painter. It would be like–”
“Like skinny dipping by yourself.”
I have to laugh at that one. “Exactly,” I say. “Pointless.”
“Not pointless,” she says, and looks at me seriously. “Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything. Besides, doomed love is a part of life.”