Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon9:00:00 AM
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Published: September 1, 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: ★★ 4/5 Stars
Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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.
Sometimes it’s hard to pack as much honesty and vibrance on life into a book, but Nicola Yoon accomplished exactly that in this one. I read this book in a single day while sitting at the beach, and while I may have the sunburn to prove it, I enjoyed it so whole-heartedly regardless of the first degree injuries I sustained.
Madeline is allergic to, well, the world. So many allergens trigger her and send her immune system into shock, she essentially lives in a bubble. Her home is on constant airlock, her only friends aside from her mom and nurse Carla are the characters between the pages of her beloved books. In a sterile world where nothing much changes from day to day, it all changes the day a moving van shows up at the house next door with Olly, the enigma of a boy who moves in. And from the moment they lock eyes between their facing windows, everything changes. Maddy grows more curious of the world outside her bedroom window, and Olly becomes more of a presence in her life. But taking a chance could mean an allergic reaction that ends in death. Maddy’s greatest threat could be herself as she is faced with the opportunity to live her life outside the airlock and under the sun.
Punctuated with witty doodles and adorable IM strings, the story was told through Madeline’s point of view. The world-building was, for a while, limited only to within the four walls of Maddy’s home, but Nicola still managed to add details that made the sterile environment come to life. Olly is a kid who loves parkour and math and yearns to escape. He is quirky and charming, and head over heels for Maddy. Carla, Maddy’s nurse, is nurturing and charismatic and always full of advice or ready to give a nudge in the right direction. Madeline’s mother is as overprotective as one should be when their child has a life-threatening and rare disease like the one Maddy has. She’s every bit the mothering, flighty, caregiver and then some – it’s endearing, but it can at times feel smothering, though she always has Madeline’s best intentions in mind.
When Maddy is faced with the rest of her life looming in front of her and the choice of whether to live it by her own rules or the strict ones enforced medically her whole life, she embarks on a journey where she discovers there’s more to life than she had ever dreamed of.
I think one reason this book in particular resonated with me so much is that I related to the overprotective mother relationship Maddy shared with her mother. My mom is essentially the definition of a helicopter parent, always hovering and always prioritizing my safety. While I can appreciate the fact that her love is what drives her to be so overprotective, I certainly can understand why Madeline would feel the urge to break free from under her mother’s protection. And the allure and draw that Olly holds is absolutely magnetic. All in all my favorite part of this book had to be how absolutely relatable it all was.
The world building was seamless, despite the fact that about 50% of this book takes place within the sterile bubble of Maddy’s home. Her room, her wardrobe, her living room all felt organic and real, and not at all fictional. Maddy’s foray into the world outside added a layer of vibrancy and brightness to the little details of everything from what it feels like to ride inside a car to the feeling of grass between your toes for the first time.
The ending of this book was bittersweet. Without going much into detail for the sake of avoiding spoilers, I do wish that it had ended slightly differently than it had. I wanted a magnificent triumph over Maddy’s illness; not to say the incredible romantic gesture wasn’t a triumph. But I could understand why things had to end the way they did, and because of that I felt like I could appreciate the morals of the story that much more.
The world is wide and big and mysterious, and you’ve got a whole lifetime to discover it all. Love is worth every risk you could ever take. And the biggest risk of all is never taking one.