Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything isn’t just a book about illness, it’s about the death-defying risks you’re willing to take in life for the things that matter most to you.
Madeline Whittier has never left her house. She’s medically diagnosed with SCID, which basically means Maddie is allergic to the world and lives in a bubble—her home. She has never left home. She seems perfectly content in her sealed-off existence—sealed off from fresh air, from visitors, from outside influences. Maddie is basically an only child with no friends and is her own caretaker. Maddie’s insulated life is lonely, to say the least. She’s homeschooled (via online courses) and the only visitors she has are her day nurse, Carla, (so her mother can work) and, very infrequently, her architecture tutor. Maddie maintains a fairly optimistic attitude in these dire circumstances. She’s a modern teen who fights through the loneliness and pain of her solitude through her books and her surprisingly health dose of sarcasm. She’s a funny girl in grim circumstances.
Her constant companion and best friend who knows absolutely everything there is to know about her? Her mother. Maddie’s mother has dedicated her life to her daughter, especially in light of the fact that her husband and son were killed tragically in an auto accident when Maddie was a baby. They play sad games, like Honor Pictionary (for 2), Phonetic Scrabble and have a standing Friday dinner with Carla and movie night.
Her other constant companion: books.
“Climbing for him is like walking for the rest of us.”
One day, a new family moves in next door. This family has a cute son that she immediately spies. His name is Ollie. He’s a black-wearing, parkour stunting hottie that Maddie can’t get enough of. They begin communicating through messages on windows that escalate to emails and then IM. You will fall in love with their coupledom through their series of precocious communications and then find yourself cheering them on soon thereafter (there has to be a way, right?). Their romance is perfectly adorable, if distant, until Carla decides to spoil Maddie a little and let her meet Ollie face-to-face. This is a game changer.
This book is beautifully told equally through Nicola Yoon’s prose and David Yoon’s (her husband!) black and white illustrations, drawings, charts and scribbles. David is not only an excellent illustrator, nailed Maddie’s identity and personality, her child-like naivety through his illustrations bringing another dimension to her character.
I will begin this thought by saying that my thoughts are heavily influenced by this article over at Lainey Gossip. Although I vow to not spoil this book, I will say that this was a pretty huge reveal (NOT twist, as most people have called it). The difference between the two is that a twist would have disrupted the narrative, while this reveal just shed light on what I was already suspecting. I simply refused to acknowledge the long chain of clues Nicola placed along the way because I wasn’t willing to accept the truth. I’m not sure most will see the ending coming—Yoon really shook me up.
There are other themes in this book outside of illness, love and friendship. Yoon delicately touches on abuse and alcoholism and loss in very thoughtful ways and sees these themes through to the end. Maddie is a thoughtfully written as a half black/half Korean young woman who is very intrigued by Olly’s Caucasian roots. There were some very heart-wrenching moments in this novel, but, overall I was satisfied with the ending. I think Nicola and David are a force to be reckoned with and they are both definitely on my radar in their future ventures.
You can purchase Everything, Everything here.