“Everything’s a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.”
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 a triumph, witty, and utterly mesmerizing book that not only saves me from consecutive failed reads but also managed to sneak its way to my favorite list.
The story introduced us to Madeline Whittier, a 17 year old girl who haven’t step to the outside world. She’s literally allergic to it – a condition known as SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) or “bubble baby disease”. She hasn’t left the house for 17 years, and only seeing the world second hand either from her windows or from the books she reads. Until the day a family moves in next door and she meets Olly – the one person who gives her reasons to be more interested to the outside world.
The blurb nor my frail attempt above doesn’t do much justice of how beautiful Everything, Everything is. Because more than the romance between Madeline and Olly this book is really a story of courage, family love, and human relationships.
Madeline is not the only one trap in the story – her mother, Olly and his family are also trap. They are all living in their own cocoons of life. At the surface, we have Madeline and her sheltered life, but behind that is a Mother who is trapped in the past, and a family who are all trapped in an abusive relationship. They are all have their own prisons that they need to break in order to live a more fulfilling and meaningful lives.
“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”
I can’t imagine living a life like Madeline. I’m allergic to dust and alcohol but being allergic to everything literally is just not a way of living I want to experience. I feel sorry for Madeline because she is missing a lot of things. Everyone knows how much I love to travel. I go out every chance I got. I love discovering new places, meeting people, and experiencing different cultures. It’s a reward I grab once in a while, that’s why I don’t want to be in Madeline’s position, not even for few days.
There’s a difference between choosing to be alone, than having no choice at all. A life inside a bubble no matter how safe it is, is not a life at all. I’d rather take all the pains and heartache I can get than live in isolation.
“Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything.”
I like how Nicola Yoon handle the twist with Madeline’s Mom. Not only it is surprising but also realistic. After the revelation, it so easy to weaved Madeline’s Mom as the villain, the one readers will hate after the final chapter, but instead, Yoon’s give realistic reasons to backup why Madeline’s Mom do the things she did, pulling sympathy from readers and adding depth to the character. In the end, readers may be frustrated or even angry with Madeline’s Mom but they will feel sorry for her at the same time.
Another thing that worth mentioning about the book is the inclusion of drawings, charts, emails and instant messages conversations between Madeline and Olly. Though, this format has been done before I still think that they added extra authenticity to the story and added more characteristics to Madeline. Madeline’s thoughts become more accessible through the charts and drawings and it also add creative touch to the book for readers to enjoy. Kudos to Nicola Yoon’s husband for sharing his talent and creativity in this beautiful book of Nicola.
Everything, Everything leapt right onto my favorites shelf when I first read it – and it has stayed there ever since. This book is definitely for keep, as I plan to do a reread again soon and in the future. There are so many lines that I want to savor again and again. Lines that inspire me to live my life more, appreciate little things around me, dare few things, and even to go back to writing again.
Few hours after I first read the book, I’ve written a couple of poems I didn’t expect to flow easily. Maybe someday after one of my rereads I’ll brave to write my own novel too. Who knows?! And even if that time didn’t come, I’m just glad that I got the chance to read this beautiful book. Because in those few hours I feel like I’ve experience a life that makes me appreciate what I have and see the world around me in a different perspective.
Nicola Yoon successfully weaved a complex and layered story in Everything, Everything. It is beautiful, inspiring, dark, and powerful. A triumph in every way.