Part of this year’s Teens’ Top Ten voting (currently ongoing!), and such a sweet book full of first (maybe forever) love, new experiences, and making choices for your own life. I highly suspect this book will stay with me, and I’ll be trying to put it into everyone’s hands. (Thanks to Rachel from my TTT group who so highly recommended it!)
When a new family with an interesting teenage son moves in next door, eighteen-year-old Madeline cannot stop watching them from her window, firstly because Olly is captivating with his street gymnastics and secondly because she has SCID – Severe Combined Immunodeficiency – and cannot (read: never) leave her house. Basically, she is allergic to almost everything: chemicals, spices, perfumes, etc. Her only interaction with the outside world is through her mother and nurse, Carla, and occasionally (rarely) a teacher, like her architecture professor. Schooling, friends, other social interactions–all done online. However, when Olly notices her peering out her window at them, he can’t leave it alone. He and his sister Kara try to bring Madeline a bundt cake, which fails spectacularly (good thing too, because the bundt was as inedible as Hagrid’s rock cakes). Since Maddy’s mother refuses to allow contact with Olly, they begin to write messages to each other, first on their windows and then by email and IM. Carla finds out, but instead of telling her mother, she helps Maddy and allows him to come in. Their friendship blooms into love despite Maddy’s illness and prompts her life to change in unexpected ways. When Olly’s alcoholic father has a particularly bad episode of domestic abuse that causes a face-off between him and Olly, Maddy cannot stay in her bubble. She runs out the door to help him, shocking herself, him, Olly’s family, and most of all, her mother. Luckily, Maddy doesn’t get sick, but she does get grounded. Severely grounded. She cannot see Olly, IM, or email. Suddenly, there was life before Olly and now life after Olly. She can no more go back to her old life and her isolation than stop breathing. As her distance from Olly grows and she watches him bring home another girl and even cry on his front porch, she realizes she has two choices: the choice to be protected and safe forever with her mother but without Olly and the new Maddy that created, or the choice to live. Ultimately, her life is up to her.
(Maybe Spoilery talk below)
This book is so perfect for fans of Eleanor and Park, Hazel and Gus, and fans of Stephanie Perkins or Huntley Fitzpatrick. It is uplifting and light yet carries a deeper, inspiring message. Maddy is everything that is innocent and yet joyful, like a child. She just delights in her experiences. Olly is practically perfect in book form (definitely book boyfriend material), but is still a complex character. I loved how Maddy kept discovering things about him, and yet didn’t learn of a few of his secrets until after he was gone. One of the best things about Everything, Everything is the artwork. It is gorgeous. From the cover which is like a microcosm of beauty, life, and possibilities. It shows perfectly the symbolism of Maddy’s life before vs. after Olly. Don’t mistake me however. This is not a book all about the boy. It has feminism and Maddy merely learns what it is like to live – from the time of her isolation to her world expanding. Below are a few other gems of the unique nature of this story, which actually reminds me of the varied media of Illuminae. I am terribly excited to read my ARC of The Sun Is Also a Star now (coming Nov 1st).