Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
Release Date: 2015
Genre: Young Adult
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.
Maddy and her illness
Maddy Whittier is turning 18 at the beginning of this book. She lives in a white room, with white furniture and wears only white clothes. Maddy is a bookaholic with her books arriving brand new, decontaminated and vacuum sealed. This is because she has a form of SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) otherwise known as ‘bubble baby disease‘.
Since Maddy was a baby she has lived in a sealed environment as any outside germ could make her ill. It has been this way since her father and brother died when she was just a few months old. Her house has a decontamination pod that all visitors must pass through and the only air in the room is filtered and replaced every four hours. The only people Maddy interacts with are her mother, her nurse Carla and on occasions a teacher, although she carries out her classes via Skype.
When we meet Maddy she has never known anything different, filling her life with homework and reading. She has a small online presence for her short spoiler book reviews and spends her evenings playing games with her mother. She is happy with her life and doesn’t consider the outside world much. That is until the new neighbours arrive. Olly, the parkour fanatic immediately grabs her attention, he moves with fluidity climbing up to his roof and across his porch.
LORD OF THE FLIES BY WILLIAM GOLDBERG
Spoiler alert: Boys are savages
Yoon, N. 2015, p.34
Maddy quickly starts up surveillance on her new neighbours and finds a not so happy family. Olly’s father is an alcoholic who often takes it out on his mother and the rest of the family. Olly’s sister, Kara, chain smokes and Olly spends a lot of time on the roof out of sight of Maddy’s window.
However, it is not long before Olly is just as interested with Maddy and writes his e-mail address on his window for her. This starts their relationship which we follow through email and IM conversations. Maddy finds Olly to be amazing, fun, brave and full of energy; he breathes the world she cannot and moves with a motion she can only dream of. For Olly, Maddy is exotic and mysterious, the girl who doesn’t leave the house. Sharing their love of books, and discussions over limericks vs haikus, Maddy and Olly find a connection. It is through Olly that Maddy starts to feel and see the world, he is the only thing in her life that is new, fresh and surprising.
For the first time, Maddy finds it hard to speak with her mother, preferring to keep Olly and their budding friendship to herself. She knows that her mum will not approve and will worry if Maddy has someone else in her life. As her doctor, her mother constantly worries about her and is desperate to keep Maddy safe after the death of her husband and son.
The only person she can speak to is Carla, her nurse. Having been with Maddy for many years and having a daughter of Maddy’s age, she knows how to reach Maddy and make her feel less alone. She is the one person Maddy can trust and turn to, no matter what.
Maddy is alive with Olly. The only question is how far she is willing to go for love.
Everything, Everything draws you in from the first page. Written in the style of a diary, Maddy shares her thoughts and experiences. She fills it with sketches, her emails and copies of her tests.
Written in short chapters, interspersed with hand sketches the book is easy to read. Maddy is intelligent yet naive, you experience her start to worry about her appearance, and how her clothes fit. It is great to see her go through the normal things a teenager would go through when falling in love for the first time. It’s written in a beautifully honest way, reflecting Maddy’s need for human interaction.
“I am not lonely, Mom, ” I snap. “I am alone. Those are different things.”
Yoon, N. 2015, p.158
I read Everything, Everything in two sittings, and all I can say is wow. It took me a few chapters to get used to the way in which it was written, however, once I got comfortable with Maddy it was hard to put down. It was so well structured that I never questioned it or the choices made by Maddy.
It is very rare that a book can surprise you such as this does. I started out thinking it was just a story of a young girl finding love and living through another, however it turned out to be so much more.
I cannot recommend it enough, and would to everyone, especially as it is around 300 pages long, and so can be read by even the busiest of people.
I read Everything, Everything as part of the Zoella bookclub which was exclusive to WHSmith.
WHSmith included many additional things on their blog in relation to the books, some of which I’ve listed below:
Zoella and WHSmith’s reviews: here
A deleted scene from the book: here
Everything, Everything soundtrack: here