EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that this book is incredibly albeist. Although I already did not enjoy the book very much, understanding its ableism has only made me more fed up with this novel. I do not recommend it and would strongly urge other bloggers to listen to the voices of those that have been hurt by the ableism before gushing about it themselves.
A cute love story, but the ending didn’t stick the landing.
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.
I was fascinated by the premise of this book: a love story involving a girl who can never leave her house. I knew that it would be cute and bittersweet, and in that way, Everything, Everything was exactly what I wanted it to be.
Maddy was an interesting protagonist who clearly grew throughout the story. In the beginning, I had a hard time connecting to her, simply because I do not know how you could possibly stay so positive when you can never leave your house. I liked her character enough, I just couldn’t understand her completely. Once she started looking out her window and wanting more from her life, her character got more complex and relatable.
Throughout it all, I loved her optimistic spirit and her semi-poetic voice. Her identity as a mixed-race character was interesting–it didn’t have a massive effect on the book, but it was prominent enough to add diversity to the story.
The main plot of the book surrounds Maddy falling for her new neighbor, Olly. Olly was a cute love interest: an energetic, daring boy with a math nerd side–everything that book-loving Maddy wasn’t. Watching the two of them fall in love was freaking adorable, though I never fully understood what drew Olly to Maddy, besides curiosity. Their relationship progressed very quickly, but it wasn’t quite instalove; for the most part, I was swept away by the romance and didn’t mind the pacing.
Everything, Everything’s plot is simple, but it touches on a lot of deeper themes. Olly’s father is abusive; some of the most heart-wrenching scenes were when Maddy had to watch Olly’s family be attacked, unable to go outside and help. Nicola Yoon handled the issue of domestic violence well, and it added needed depth to Olly’s character.
With a clear theme of living life despite the risks, Everything, Everything is one of the more inspiring books I’ve read this year. The story is an excellent kick-in-the-pants for anyone afraid of taking risks and living life to its fullest–this is the kind of book that will make you want to travel, to go to museums, to explore. The writing is poetic without overpowering the story, and I loved the simplistic sketches woven throughout the story.
My only complaint is that this book felt underdeveloped. It is a short novel made up of shorter chapters, and I wish Nicola Yoon had lengthened the book to explore more of the characters and conflicts. We never got to meet Olly’s family, which disappointed me because I felt like Olly’s sister would have been a really interesting character if she had gotten any scenes at all. As a character-loving reader, I was let down by the lack of depth the characters had. Maddy is the only character who the reader really gets to know–even Olly and Maddy’s mother are sparsely characterized. Also, the story ends suddenly, almost feeling cut-off, like the last chapters got deleted by accident.
Overall, this is a cute love story with humorous and heart-wrenching moments alike. I would recommend it to fans of down-to-earth contemporary stories who enjoy poetic writing and emotional stories.
Spoiler alert: I have to talk about the ending. If you’ve read the book, keep reading–let’s discuss that crazy reveal!
If you haven’t read this book yet, STOP READING!
I actually saw the reveal about Maddy’s illness coming. I was talking to my sister about how I saw no possibility of a happy ending…unless Maddy wasn’t actually sick. I realized that Maddy’s mom might just be traumatized by losing her husband and her son and that the SCID diagnosis could be a fraud. The scene in Hawaii convinced me that I was wrong…but then I was right. As someone who NEVER sees plot twists coming, I feel pretty damn accomplished having guessed this one.
Though it gave the story a happy ending, the plot twist frustrated me a bit. Going into this book, my biggest question was how Nicola Yoon would be able to give a girl who can’t leave her house a chance to live a fulfilling life–and the answer, apparently, is you can’t. Maddy only got to love Olly because she wasn’t really sick; it felt like the author was saying that a person with SCID is still 100% screwed, and that was pretty depressing.
The message of living life despite your fears still stands, but I wish that Nicola Yoon had been able to give “sick Maddy” a happy ending as well.
What did you think of the ending? Did you like it? Was it a let-down? Were you surprised?