Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
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.
This book revolves around Maddy, a teenager who’s spent her entire life shut off from the world due to a rare disease called severe combined immunodeficiency. SCID has weakened Maddy’s immune system to the point where any little thing can make her sick. She lives in a white life, reading books and interacting only with her mother and her nurse, Carla. Her father and brother tragically died when she was for months old. When a family moves into the house next door, Maddy wants to get to know them. Especially a boy called Olly. They eventually get to know each other trough for example IM. Maddy falls in love, but Maddy knows she’s stepping in dangerous waters. Can they ever truly be together given her disease?
First off the representation of SCID. I don’t know if it’s well represented since I don’t have the disease. I do have a mental illness and a lot of what was going through Maddy’s head, I got. Wishing things, wanting more out of live but not being able to get it. That sort of thing.
Maddy is a wonderful character. For a teenager with SCID, Maddy is remarkably grounded. She loves reading novels, has online tutors, and spends evenings playing games with her mother. You learn she is so grounded through the things she says, for example “I am not lonely,” she tells her mom. “I am alone. Those are different things.” I found her to be so strong. To live with a disease that literally causes you to stay inside for the rest of your life and still find joy is quit remarkable. She wants not just to live, but to live a life worth remembering. I say this because I have a mental illness and finding joy in things for me is hard. I know there is a difference between SCID and a mental illness but still, their both diseases that can cripple you. Also something I loved was that Maddy is not the “typical” YA protagonist. If you are looking for a book with a diverse main character then look no further because Maddy is Japanese/African American. Olly. Another wonderful character. Olly spends his days hanging out on his roof and shielding his mother and younger sister from his alcoholic, abusive father. His protectiveness of the people he loves was what made me love him so much. Carla. Also great. Being there for Maddy ever since she was little and actually letting her experience things. Maddy’s mom. Maddy and her mom had such a great relationship, they did everything together. That was until .…
The plot. Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything is a complex and layered book. This book deals with what it’s like having to live with SCID, with romance and family but also with horrible things that can happen to families after for example a traumatic event. This book at the end had a major plot twist. One that was not expected. And I think that although your angry you also understand and are sympathetic. I think Nicola Yoon wanted people to feel both things since it reflects real life. People can do terrible things and you can understand their motivations but it doesn’t mean you have to like them.
The best thing about this book was how easy and quick of a read it is. While the majority of the book is written in prose, there are so many pages that have illustrations that fit with the story. I loved the fact that when you turned a page there was for example a diary entry of Maddy when she was younger or a drawing. I felt that through the illustrations you got to know Maddy’s personality a lot better. It really added charm and character to the novel.
First of I wish her mother’s illness had been named. I’m pretty sure she had Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, not just “she’s too overprotective.” Naming it would spread awareness and be informative.
Their’s a lot of controversy surrounding the plot twist. For me, using a mental illness as a plot twist is a big no, no but in this case I get it. I myself think that many real children in this type of situation also do not know. They depend on their parent and take their word for it that they are sick. The fact that her mom’s illness was revealed to us along with Maddy felt very realistic of this situation.
Still though I get why others are kind of mad. For those who live with SCID or any other illness for that matter reading this might give them a non satisfactory feeling. Some might say a sick feeling. Since it can seem that people can only live a happy live when there is a plot twist that takes the disability away.
This was a hard book to review, since their some controversy surrounding it. Anyway for those of you who would like a swoon worthy romance, this is the book for you. For those of you who want to think and question, this is the book for you. Just read it and come back to me with your thoughts.