by Nicola Yoon
Genres: 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.
I was asked to do an early review of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. While I usually avoid young adult contemporary romances, the premise for Everything, Everything immediately reminded me of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, a 70’s movie starring John Travolta. Yoon delivered a wonderful tale with heart, a surprising twist and a slow burning romance.
I quickly slipped into Everything, Everything in part because of the protagonist, Madeline. Madeline has a rare disorder and for the past seventeen years, she has not left her sterile environment. She is a reader, and her talks about books and her routine when a new book arrives endeared her to me. Despite her diagnosis, she is surprising happily and positive. She is a complex character who is sheltered and naive. Often times she surprised me with displays of surprisingly mature characteristics. It is exactly how I imagine someone who has grown up in a controlled environment would behave.
When a moving truck arrives and a young man named Ollie takes up residences next door, she becomes curious about the family and the young man. She watches there coming and goings like her window is a television set.
While the storyline is predictable, Yoon added a few twists to this story that added a touch of darkness to an otherwise light romance. She takes us through the developing friendship of Madeline and Ollie. As the two become friends, Madeline begins to feel the constraints of her illness and the walls of her home become a prison. I found myself worrying about her as she became impulsive.
Throughout the book are illustrations and notes done by Madeline as well as air quality charts and the like. Secondary characters like her nurse Carla and her mother added depth fleshing out Madeline’s reality. Conversations with Ollie are often in the form of email format and messenger. I was surprised by a little twist in the plot and Yoon did an excellent job of creating believability.
Everything, Everything was a delightful, easy, heartwarming read that will delight readers.
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