Read this if you’re in the mood for: contemporary YA, diversity, romance, excellent characterization
Summary: 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.
Read this if you like:
JOYRIDE by Anna Banks (links to our recommendation!)
On the surface, the books couldn't be more different — JOYRIDE centers on the daughter of deported immigrants, and EVERYTHING EVERYTHING is about a girl with a rare medical condition. But both girls are trapped in lives they didn't choose, and their stories center around their escape from that life and the things they risk and sacrifice to experience freedom. (Also, it's worth noting that both MCs are multicultural, with Carly being Mexican and Madeline being half-African American, half-Asian (like Nicola Yoon's daughter is, which is just awww).) Plus, the love interests have some seriously messed up home lives, with abusive fathers.
The Rec: EVERYTHING EVERYTHING is about deciding that you want precisely what the world says you can't have — and being willing to sacrifice anything to get it. After living her whole life in a bubble (ok, her house, but it's basically a house-shaped medical bubble), Madeline gets a taste of a "normal" existence when she meets Olly, and she becomes willing to risk her life to get to experience a world she's only seen through her window. It's so charming to see the world through her eyes, since nearly everything is a "first" for her.
I loved the relationship dynamics between Madeline and her mom (and their Phonetic Scrabble (Fonetik Skrabbl) game nights), Madeline and Carla (her wonderful nurse), and Madeline and Olly (her parkour-addicted new neighbor-slash-future love interest). Olly is totally crushworthy, too, and their bantering is delightful. They're quickly smitten with each other, but hours upon hours of conversation deepen their bond.
As you witness their relationship develop, the reality of Madeline's diagnosis always hovers in the background, and you can't help but wonder (with a sense of foreboding) how it's all going to end. Spoiler-free, I can tell you that the end is going to be divisive for many readers. Some will love it (and to be fair, Yoon sets it up with subtle hints throughout the book); some will hate it. Personally, I felt a bit conflicted, but it didn't mar my overall enjoyment of Madeline's story.
Ultimately, though, EVERYTHING EVERYTHING wins because of Madeline and her quirky voice, her spoilerrific one-line book reviews, and her drawings.
The Caveat: The ending wraps up a bit too quickly, and I think more readers would be content with the ending if there had been a little more time for it to settle.
You should read this because: EVERYTHING EVERYTHING is a unique, charming contemporary novel that lets you see the world for the first time through Madeline's eyes.
Recommendation by: Donna