Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Madeline Whittier is an eighteen year old girl who hasn’t left her house in seventeen years. It’s about as lonely as it sounds. Seventeen years is a long time to get used to a life of relative solitude, though, and in that time Madeline learns how to not let it bother her. With her mother, her nurse, Carla, and Skype lessons with her teachers, she has people to talk to. Besides, she has her bookshelf full of new, clean books to keep her company.
Maddy has had seventeen years of practice at not longing for a “normal” life too badly. She knows that with her disease, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, leaving her clean and controlled home would almost certainly mean death. She reads her books and she’s content with her life the way it is, following the same schedule every day. Then new neighbors move in next door, including a teenage boy.
I’m always a critic of books where everything changes when a guy shows up, even if he’s the most likable guy in the world (which Olly just might be). That was probably my biggest issue when I picked up the book, but Nicola Yoon played it out well enough that I was satisfied. Instead of Madeline’s life changing because of a boy, it changes because of what he means for her, and that’s something that I can get behind. Olly reminds Madeline that there is life outside of her house that can be bigger and better than what she has, even if it’s impossible for her.
This book is told through Madeline’s point of view. This can go either way for me, because when an adult author tries to narrate through a teenage character’s voice there are so many chances for it to go wrong. Maddy could have seemed too dumb or naïve, or she could have seemed wise beyond her years in a way that wouldn’t have made sense. Nicola Yoon found a good balance, especially taking into consideration the fact that Madeline had led a very sheltered life.
Yoon was very skilled at creating three dimensional characters apart from Madeline, too. Each character was fleshed out and felt like a whole person. Even Olly’s sister, who only spoke two lines throughout the entire book, had enough hints about her personality to make it seem plausible for her to have a life outside of Madeline’s narrative.
I loved this book. It was funny, it was captivating, and it was real. Maddy seemed like she was a real girl just a few years older than me, with all of her curiosities and flaws and with her want to take control over her own life. I think I can confidently say that Everything, Everything, is the best book that I’ve read so far in 2016.
My favorite quote: "Sometimes you do things for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong ones and sometimes it's impossible to tell the difference." (page 174)