Rating: 5 OWLS
Nicola Yoon’s debut Everything, Everything is a quick and heartwarming read that will leave readers looking forward to more novels. Everything, Everything is the perfect rainy day read as it has just the right amount of romance, humor, and heartache. The story takes us on a wonderful journey about love, loss, hardship, trials and tribulations, abuse, forgiveness, teenage angst, and just generally growing up and letting go. It is the kind of read that once it captures your heart it won’t let go, and what’s more you won’t want it to let go. The novel is narrated by Madeline (Maddy) Whittier who has a severe combined immunodeficiency, SCID; in short Maddy is allergic to the outside world and therefore is confined to her house. She hasn’t left her house in seventeen years and that won’t change in the future as there is no cure for her disease. The only two people she physically interacts with on a daily basis are her mother and her nurse Carla. She has online tutors, but basically her life is limited to books, school which she attends online, movies, and game nights. She is content with her life, until one day her entire world is turned upside down when a new family moves in next door. Maddy instantly knows that she will fall in love with Olly, the boy next door, and she also knows that it will be a disaster. But if you think this is a story about a sick teen with a doomed life story you couldn’t be more wrong. There are laugh out loud moments and tears to be shed, but the story has a very hopeful feel.
The book opens with a lovely quote from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry“Here is my secret. It's quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” This is not only Maddy’s favorite novel, but it also fits the story perfectly.
Nicola Yoon managed to create easy to love characters that will stay with the reader long after the last page. I loved how Yoon portrayed several ethnicities in her characters; Maddy is a biracial protagonist, which I found very refreshing. This was not the emphasis of the story, but it was a great way of including a more diverse cast of characters.
The use of annotations, IMs, charts, and Maddy’s hand written notes that were included throughout the novel allowed the reader to further connect with Maddy, giving her a unique voice and making her more personable to the reader. I also really enjoyed Maddy’s one sentence spoiler reviews of classic novels that were included throughout the book and “Madeline’s Dictionary”, which I found extremely clever.
“Madeline’s Dictionary: promise – 1. The lie you want to keep [2015, Whittier]”
The story touched on a several issues, such as depression and family abuse. I can’t say much about this as it would be a spoiler, but I loved the psychological bread crumbs that were given throughout the book, without actually giving everything away. I found the twists to be a bit predictable, but that might be because psychology is one of my favorite subjects and I took several classes on the subject.
All in all I loved this book; I found the story to be very well written, unique in its composition, and with amazing characters that I easily fell in love with. Yoon is an excellent storyteller and I am looking forward to reading more from her. Fantastic read!