Published by Delacorte on September 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
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.
Everything, Everything is the story of Madeline, an 18-year-old girl who has lived in the bubble of her home since infancy because she has a disease called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (aka “SCID”) that requires a sterile environment at all times. At the beginning of the novel, a new family moves next door, and Madeline is immediately drawn to Olly, a good-looking guy whose bedroom is directly across from hers. The two quickly begin an online friendship, and Madeline wants more than anything for their relationship to exist in reality as well. What follows is an emotional and thought-provoking novel about young love, family relationships, and health, both physical and emotional.
I thoroughly enjoyed Everything, Everything, but definitely have some critiques. First and foremost is the language used in the book. For the most part, the story flowed well and Madeline’s first-person narration was easy to read. However, every once in a while the word choice was very awkward and disrupted the rhythm of the story. For instance, in a scene where Madeline was talking about her body, she uses the word “derriere,” which seemed extremely out-of-character. This small interruption in the reading flow occurred every so often, and while the incidents were alone quite small, they amounted to a regular, noticeable pattern in the book. Similarly, religion did not play a role in the novel, but there was one, odd sentence about God that seemed out of place. I reread the line several times, but couldn’t figure out its purpose.
Moreover, Everything, Everything was a novel that tried to do too much in too few pages. In other words, the author discussed many serious topics in this short book. While some of them were well-developed and made a substantial contribution to the story, others felt forced, and as if they were thrown in just to score points with readers. For example, a side character who only appears in one scene mentions he is gay and struggling with whether or not he should come out to his parents. Though it is admirable that the author chose to include such diverse characters in Everything, Everything, I wish she stuck to the core themes of the novel instead of trying to include everything (pun intended).
Finally, Everything, Everything does include instalove, a trope which has truly come to annoy me as a young adult contemporary reader. I won’t go into details regarding the romance in this book so as to avoid spoilers, but instalove is definitely at the forefront of the novel, and I found it quite uncomfortable at times. I also want to mention that the romance in this book does include an explicit scene that may not be appropriate for younger readers, which is something you may want to take into consideration before purchasing this book for yourself or your child.
Despite these criticisms, I truly did find Everything, Everything to be a great read and a solid debut novel for Nicola Yoon. The characters felt real, and the world is extremely well-detailed. I loved how the reader gets to see instant message conversations between Madeline and Olly, as well as other documents such as medical charts and internet purchases. These additions help to make the book even more developed and quite believable.
Though I did predict the ending of the book, I was still affected by it nonetheless. I spent hours thinking about the outcome after finishing the novel. Everything, Everything is definitely a book I will remember for a long time, and one that I think is perfect to discuss with friends or book clubs. I recommend it for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and E. Lockart’s We Were Liars, and for fans of young adult contemporary more generally. Add this to your wish list now so you’ll be ready for it’s release this September!