Everything, Everything is an arresting YA novel from Nicola Yoon that is both a completely conventional YA (girl is shy and in her shell, boy brings girl out of shell, etc.) and a surprising subversion of the genre.
When we first meet Maddie, she’s the girl in the bubble. She hasn’t left her house since she was only months old – only interacting with her nurse, Carla, a handful of tutors and her mother. She has SCID – Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. Essentially, the bubble disease. It’s debilitating for her and she lives in a combination of fear of the outside and deep curiosity about it.
When Olly moves in next door, she finds herself drawn to him and he upheaves her life in a way she never could have expected. Until him, the only color in her life was the books on her shelf. He blows in with a veritable rainbow – expanding her world. It’s simple things, like she’s read Pride and Prejudice about seventeen times but had no idea that other girls loved Mr. Darcy as much as she did.
I don’t know how to talk about this book without spoilers, so I’m going to put a page break here. Know I got the book from NetGalley and that I’d recommend Diet Coke with it. Also, if you’ve never read The Little Prince, now’s a great time to do that.
Warning bells went off in my head when she started talking to Olly, to be honest. I’d imagine that any child with SCID these days would be glued to the internet and would have learned socialization that way. If she didn’t have friends, I doubt that was the fault of the disease and was instead the fault of her helicopter mother.
And, of course, we find out that it is. Maddy doesn’t have SCID at all, her mother just treated her like she did after they lost the husband and brother in a car accident. When Maddy finally confronts her mom, she just keeps saying that she couldn’t loose Maddy too.
Right. Understandable sentiment. Also a clear sign of mental illness.
I’m unsure how this stayed hidden for 18 years, to be honest. I knew it was coming – Chekov’s gun was put on the wall in Act 1, so to speak – so I wasn’t overwhelming surprised by it. I probably would have been at 15, though.
As far as the romance goes, I was nervous for Maddy, especially when she chooses to loose her virginity to Olly on their impromptu trip to Hawaii. This girl has no friends. She has no emotional support system. Olly doesn’t seem to have anyone else either – his family is a bit of a shit show – and two isolated teenagers treating each other like water in a desert has a little bit too much of a Romeo and Juliet vibe for my taste.
So, this book was fine. I would have eaten it with its angst up with a big fluffy spoon when I was a teenager, so I suppose it worked the way it was supposed to.
One thing I did really love about it was that this is a diverse book. Maddy, we’re told, is half African-American and half Japaneese-American. Olly’s best friend, who we meet in Hawaii, is black and gay. These things are not commented on as THINGS but instead normal parts of the worlds of these characters. Life is not lived in black and white, despite Maddy’s bubble. I really appreciated that.
Like I said before the page break, this one’s a Diet Coke book.
- Learn more about SCID from the Human Genome Project
- When I say that Maddy could have made friends before Olly, it’s this kind of website she could have done that with.
- Boy in the Plastic Bubble: A TV movie starring Travolta where we get this descriptor for SCID. TV movie drama at its finest, no joke.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.