Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books
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, Maddy, am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
I am what Nicola Yoon coins a “thorough reader.” I read the dedication, the prologue, the introduction, the acknowledgement, the appendices, the author Q&A, and the sneak peeks. If you pick one book to “read thoroughly,” this should be it. To be completely honest, that’s what took this book from 3 stars to 4 stars for me. That’s right, the “extras” raised this book half a star for me. Reading the Q&A, you see a bit more of Yoon’s heart for this book, for writing a multiracial main character, for her family, for the way that books impact and leave an impression on their readers. Reading her Q&A section, instilled a little bit of her passion for this book in me.
When I first picked up this book, I struggled to adjust to its style. I’ve recently had my head buried deep in Sarah J Maas and Leigh Bardago books – quick-paced, clever, conniving, and action-packed. This book is none of those things. Everything, Everything has more of a John Green/Rainbow Rowell feel to it. It’s about exploring the daily life and mind of a teenage girl trying to figure out life in her own unique situation rather than creating a new world with new creatures and places and powers. And I liked that. It made me feel nostalgic about my own teenage years in the same way that Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park made me feel nostalgic.
Praise for Everything, Everything:
- The writing style: Yoon carries the storyline through short chapters in a variety of formats: regular writing, IM conversations, tumblr book reviews, dictionary pages, diagrams, schedules, pictures, e-mails. It’s easy to read and conveys Maddy’s full life better than straight writing ever could have. Perhaps most impressively, nothing seems extraneous. Even the random “spoiler tumblr book reviews” sprinkled throughout the book help set the stage for what Maddy’s going through and how she’s feeling at that point in the book. Every page in this book adds to this book, which isn’t alway the case.
- Capturing Maddy’s perspective: In this novel, Yoon tackles the challenge of capturing a teenager’s mindset as someone who is no longer an adolescent (which is difficult enough in and of itself) but also capturing the worldview of someone who has never left their house, much less seen the world. Maddy hasn’t left her house in 17 years. She’s never ridden in a car, seen a school, touched a live plant. How do you begin to think like she would? Yoon answers that very question in her Q&A: she watched her young daughter. Many of Maddy’s reactions to experiencing new things in this book are a direct reflection of her own daughter’s firsts. And it’s just as sweet and perfect as its sounds.
- The inclusion of a multiracial main character: Maddy’s mom is Asian American, and her dad is African American. In case I haven’t convinced you to go read the full author Q&A already, here’s an excerpt you can’t miss:
What are diverse books so important for young people?
I really think it’s important for everyone to be able to see themselves as the hero of a story. Imagine what it would mean to a young gay boy or girl to see a Harry Potter-like story where the hero was gay. Imagine what it would mean to a young black girl or boy if the star of the next superhero blockbuster were black. Stories are so important, especially to young people. Stories help shape the way we see ourselves in the world. They help tell us who we can be and what we can achieve.
On top of that, we live in a big, beautiful, and diverse world. Our literature needs to reelect diversity simply because that’s the truth of the world we live in.
In short, diversity is important because people are important and books are important to people’s perception of themselves. Amen.
- The fact that Yoon’s husband did her illustrations for her: This is just heart-wrenchingly sweet and a dream come true. While I love a good romance novel, nothing beats real life love.
Opportunities for Improvement:
I, for once, don’t really have any opportunities for improvement. Shocking, right? Everything, Everything is a book I’m excited to keep on my shelf and pull out occasionally for nostalgia’s sake. I’m also (against my better judgement) planning to see the movie next week and am looking forward to writing a follow-up movie vs. book review! Does anyone else have plans to see it/has anyone else seen it already?