Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on September 1st 2015
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
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 requested Everything, Everything for the cover lust. Yes, I was sucked in by the cover. After I downloaded it, I was quite excited to read the “bubble baby” theme, and I knew that I was going to push this one up on the galley schedule. Yes, sick lit is the new black and all that jazz, but at least it was a new angle on the entire genre.
This book is a roller coaster. There were times that I was ready to put it down, due to some cheesy scenes and the character poking fun at mental health, but this is a story you have to stick with until the end to appreciate the entire arc.
This is a book that is difficult to openly discuss, unless you have read it. It is the same issue that I had with reviewing We Were Liars last year. Honestly, it is ideal to go into this book blind. Even a tag on a book can spoil that certain moment in the novel.
The characters were quite dazzling. Okay, let me back track — most of the characters were great. Madeline was quick to warm my heart. She was smart, quirky, creative and a great character to be stuck inside. Using illustrations and humorous faux assignments to come to terms with the range of emotions she was experiencing was delightful. Sometimes, words need more to fully impact the reader, and with a socially isolated person, it can be hard to place their thoughts into direct dialogue. I adored Carla, and I felt that she fit the role as the nurturer. Carla’s struggle was just as significant as Madeline’s. Her compassion clashed with her common sense. The biggest character issue was Olly. He was adorable, but never really developed. There wasn’t much with him, but the story wasn’t really about Olly – it was about Madeline breaking out of her isolation cocoon, and Olly was merely a catalyst.
There were points where I felt frustrated over Madeline’s choices, such as lying to her mother, ignoring her for the sake of spending online time with Olly, and trying to disengage from her usual routine. However, those feelings were not hard to justify at times. Madeline is eighteen and has never known a life that was completely her own. While I hated to see her cause her mother some heartache, I understood how, at times, it was the only sense of control that Madeline had in her life. View Spoiler »(My feelings did change by the end of the novel, however, after the huge twist.) « Hide Spoiler
For those of you who don’t care about spoilers: View Spoiler »Speaking of twists, I started to suspect that the mother wasn’t 100% okay, and MAYBE she was exaggerating Madeline’s health concerns, but it was one of those reveals that makes you read faster, just to see the fallout. I have to respect a book that leads me quietly to the answer and then rears back to show the destruction inside the story. In fact, I respect the author for placing the twist in the story to point out that illness is NOT as glamorous as current fiction makes it seem. In a way, this is the anti-TFioS, and I awarded a whole extra star for the rough, painful realties of illness. It seems insulting to glamorize life-changing sickness and illnesses, and this book perfectly points out what it is like for these people. « Hide Spoiler
The only few downsides I could find was that I wish the book had delved more into the daily functions of a SCID patient. Madeline does share at the start of the story how her books are decontaminated and sterilized prior to shipping, but after that, there is an airlock and a filter, but that was it. I wanted to know more about how the house is cleaned (what do they do about dust and what cleaners do they use?), if Madeline could wear regular clothing, or if they have to come to her in the same fashion as her books. I also wanted to know dietary restructions, how the food is prepared, etc etc. The most famous case of a person living with SCID, David Vetter, aka Bubble Boy, had to have everything sterilized prior to contact:
Water, air, food, diapers and clothes were sterilized before entering the sterile chamber. Items were placed in a chamber filled with ethylene oxide gas for four hours at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60˚C), and then aerated for a period of one to seven days before being placed in the sterile chamber.
I wanted to see more of this, the behind-the-scenes information. View Spoiler »For those who already read it: I KNOW. But you would think that she could keep up appearances. The internet WAS available to Madeline, and all it would have taken was an internet search and an article to blow the lie apart sooner. « Hide Spoiler
There were cute moments between Madeline and Olly (suicidal bundt cake?? Great way to break the ice!) and I thought it was interesting to see the underlying comparison between Olly’s entrapment and Madeline’s isolation, but sometimes the romance was a bit TOO much. I also couldn’t understand Madeline’s choices. Olly’s father is an abusive drunk, and Olly would often stand between his mother and his raging father. Madeline considered stopping a drunk, violent man herself, all in the “name of love.” Instead, why did no one call the police? It wasn’t a one-time incident. Instead of facing off against a abusive person, why did no one think to pick up the phone and alert the authorities?
The last issue that bothered me was the rushed ending. There was quite a bit going on, and there was some room in there for the huge reveal, but it seems that the book was done and wanted to be over, just to rush ahead to the conclusion with the romance. There were some medical and legal issues, but it all seemed glazed over for a happy, non-confrontational ending. Not okay.
Despite a few slow parts and some questionable decisions, Everything, Everything was a great read. The illustrations were adorable, and despite a strong lean towards developing the romance, the entire “live your life” theme did dominate the book. There are some adorable moments in the novel, and I quite enjoyed that the author addressed many different kinds of cages that people fight against in their lives. This one is a jaw-dropping, painful celebration of your life, and what it means to be alive.
This eBook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.