Author: Nicola Yoon
Also by this author: The Sun Is Also a Star, Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet.
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: September 1st 2015
Source: ARC from BEA15
Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?
Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is about a female Bubble Boy. Madeline has had to live most of her life in isolation in her house because she’s allergic to a ton of things. But then new neighbors move in, including a teenage boy named Olly. Slowly, she gets to know him, but that knowledge comes with the recognition that they can never be together…or can they?
I fell in love with Madeline as a character immediately. The very first sentence of the book is “I’ve read many more books than you,” which, you know, pretty much is me (challenge: accepted!). She is both incredibly mature (working on college level courses at 16) and incredibly child-like (having never really had real human interaction since she was a baby), and that combo is intoxicating. I could understand Olly’s curiosity and draw to her, and her first naively optimistic, beautiful, and tragic impressions of Olly. I felt so much for Madeline because she treasures and makes the most out of every moment with Olly, whether it’s in her writing to him, or the various ways she kills time before seeing him again.
It’s inevitable, in reading the synopsis, that Madeline and Olly will finally get to meet and it will be heightened by the fact that Madeline is in danger for her life. She risks absolutely everything to be with Olly, and it’s understandable and heartbreaking. That’s where the book got me.
And then it lost me. I can’t say any more without giving away huge, mega spoilers, but essentially, I was not okay with the back third of the book. Even though it was written with compassion, I could not get over what I thought was a plot development that completely did not work. It wasn’t just that it was shocking, it was that it was inconsistent with details that the author had previously established. Highlight ONLY IF YOU’VE READ THE BOOK: [for me, the fact that Madeline was able to eat anything for her Friday night dinners was already a clue that something was up. The fact that the various nurses that she had didn’t notice that might indicate an incorrect diagnosis is just…a deus ex machina that I could not get behind. It’s even more frustrating to me that I now have to assume that the nurses, including Carla, were inept at their jobs because they were monitoring her quite seriously, and they clearly never asked to examine her files regularly. Not to mention the fact that no one ever has their parent as a physician. I think the author could have plotted and researched a little more to make this plot development more believable, and it just didn’t sit right for me.]
All that said, I enjoyed and sank into Yoon’s writing effortlessly. I adored the little details (the Bundt cake, Madeline’s spoiler reviews of books, the t-shirt colors) and thought put into this one, and the writing and illustrations were incredible (see below).
Source Documents: The book is punctuated with the “source documents” of Madeline’s: her IMs and emails to and from Olly, her illustrations, what she searches for online, etc. It’s not a unique take on teen romance, but it’s one that is done so freshly because of the care that Yoon (and her illustrator husband) obviously put into planning each piece.
Form Follows Function: For me, what really worked in this book was the spare, direct writing and the short chapters. The writing and voice are perfect because she’s never really had to hold back on what she needed to say, and the short chapters allude to just how short the time is between each interaction she has with people.
Book Theme Song:
Put your lips close to mine
As long as they don’t touch
Out of focus, eye to eye
Till the gravity’s too much
And I’ll do anything you say
If you say it with your hands
And I’d be smart to walk away,
But you’re quicksand
This slope is treacherous
This path is reckless
This slope is treacherous
And I, I, I like it
The Final Word:
Everything, Everything is a polarizing book – both for me, as a reader, and for the book reviewing community. I’ve seen a ton of amazing and puzzling reviews on this one. For me, it worked up to a point but lost traction because of inconsistencies. That said, I think Yoon is a talent to be watched, and I would definitely read another of her books.
EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING comes out tomorrow. Will you be reading it? Have you seen the movie Bubble Boy (I haven’t) or read any other books similar to this concept? Is tragic love your thing?