Everything, Everything is a new twist on the theme ‘boy meets girl’. In this case, Madeline has an immodeficiency disease called SCID. She has just turned 18 and has never been outside her house. She has been happy all this time to hang out at home with her books, her caregiver, and her mother. Until the new neighbours move in, and there is a boy…
Through windows and by instant messaging, Maddy and Olly get to know each other. He comes to know her condition, and she comes to know his dysfunctional family dynamics. After a while, they meet at Maddy’s house (after some rigorous decontamination), and are told not to touch. But, the more they get to know each other and the more they meet, the more they want. “Wanting just leads to more wanting.” Maddy is starting to think that being happy and being alive are not the same thing. She is soon keeping secrets from her mom, as well as contemplating taking the biggest risk of her life.
Ever since Olly came into my life there have been two Maddys: the one who lives through books and doesn’t want to die, and the one who lives and suspects that death will be a small price to pay for it. The first Maddy is surprised at the direction of her thoughts. The second Maddy… She’s like a god – impervious to cold, famine, disease, natural and man-made disasters. She’s impervious to heartbreak. The second Maddy knows that this pale half-life is not really living.
So, Maddy makes her choice and disaster strikes. Or does it? Whichever way you look at it, her life will never be the same. She has tasted the sweetness of love and wants more, she has experienced the Outside and wants more; but as a result she has kept secrets from her mother, she has gone against her mother’s wishes and their close bond is breaking down. It is said that love makes us do crazy things – is it true? How crazy?
I’ve read many, many books involving heartache. Not one has ever described it as little. Soul-shattering and world-destroying, yes. Little, no.
This is why people touch. Sometimes words are just not enough.
My overall view of the book: I liked it, I thought it was cute, I liked the characters, and I liked all the books references. As a teen, I would have loved this book. As an older reader I couldn’t help but question some of the actions and choices that were made – stuff that I wouldn’t have thought of 20 years ago. It has the happy ending that a book like this is expected to have, but in my new older mind I wondered about the message the book is sending to my kids. Things don’t always work out the way you want, and love is not always the answer. (And, what about other people who have disabilities? I don’t want to give anything away in this review, but to find out what I mean head on over to Disability in Kidlit.) I would like to have seen the author take it in the not-so-easy direction, and still get to a happy ending (although, not likely the same happy ending). A conversation I had with Karen from One More Page, also made me realize that I would have liked more resolution with the mother (also discussed in more detail at Disability in Kidlit).
My daughter’s overall view: She liked it but she didn’t love it. She admits to being more of a dystopia/adventure/sci-fi fan, and not so much ‘boy meets girl’ fan. But, she did like it, and thought it seemed pretty realistic. She especially liked the sun room. And, she wondered why everything was white. (Why is everything white?) When I asked her what she thought of the ending, she smiled and said she liked it (what teen wouldn’t?). When I asked her about how it was left with the mother, she said she felt bad for her and hopes her daughter will still mostly live at home (yay!). This made me realize that the end could be interpreted as more open than I at first thought; all of Maddy’s plans are not revealed; just the immediate ones.
- Does love make us do crazy things?
- Would you risk everything for love?
- Is there still a benefit to falling in love, even if you know it will inevitably lead to heartbreak? Or is it best to avoid it?
- Is it worth the risk of dying to live rather than to just exist? Is it even true that just because you have a disability that doesn’t allow you to live the same way as people without the disability that you are not truly living?
- Are there any good books out there about teens/people with disabilities successfully living their lives to the fullest?
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?
This is Nicola Yoon‘s first book, and I think it will do well. Check out her website; it’s as fun and colourful as the cover of her book. The acknowledgment section in her book is also worth reading; I thought it was lovely.
*I received this book from the publisher, which in no way changes my views of the book.