Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Pub Date: September 1, 2015
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: provided by publisher
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
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.
Can we start with the cover art? Because wow. It is illustrated by the folks over at Good Wives and Warriors, and you should click on over to their website if you’re at all interested in detailed, vibrant art. Honestly, the cover art is so intricate that it’s breathtaking. I seriously want a poster of this book cover to hang on my wall and stare at all the time.
Anyone got the hookup? Major heart eyes for the jacket design that encases and displays this book to the world.
I read this book cover to cover in an estimated 4 hours. Those five hours were not spread out over time. I read this book in two sittings. It would have taken me a lot longer if this was a text-heavy book, but Yoon incorporates instant messaging, drawings from Maddy’s journal, and renderings of official documents into her short chapters. Short chapters are such a trap for me. I’ll see the end of the chapter and keep thinking “I totally have time for one more!” And then I look back three hours later, and that one more chapter has turned into . . . well, most of the book. Short chapters keep me turning the pages, as does the use of mixed media, so Everything, Everything was perfect for quick reading.
Maddy – the protagonist – has a voice that is so compelling and full of life. She hasn’t been Outside her house since she was a baby, but she spends lots of time learning about what life on the Outside is like. The thing about learning the world’s history? Most of the events that are in the textbooks probably happened Outside of Maddy’s house.
The whole book had a fairy tale atmosphere. You know, it’s kind of like the cozy cottage secluded in the woods. You know the person inside – the dwarves, long-lost princesses, and/or enchanted woodland creatures – is about to have their world rocked. Maddy, our book’s princess(-like figure) feels safe in her home, and has a mother who cares for her very much – what more could she need? Things get complicated when Ollie moves in and for the first time Maddy begins to keep secrets from her mother. And just in case you were wondering, even though fairy tales are not exactly known for subverting sexist character tropes, Maddy is no damsel-in-distress here. Well, maybe she kinda is at the beginning . . . but the reader soon finds that she is a stubbornly independent and courageous young woman. 50 brownie points if you can guess which fairy tale this book turns into before you get half way through!
I’ll admit, I had guessed what fairy tale Maddy’s story was turning into, but the end was still shocking for me. I knew the basic outline that the plot should follow, but Nicola Yoon plays with that formula and opens it up for contemplation. You finish the book wondering who (or what) the bad guy is in Everything, Everything.
Maddy was extremely relatable to me because first of all, she loves books, and will defend their importance in the world if someone challenges it. Books are how she knows anything about Outside. They’re how she escapes the confines of her medical prison. Some mentioned more than once: The Little Prince, and Jane Eyre. I find this so fascinating. One of the questions that crossed my mind as I was reading and had these titles in the back of my brain was whether Maddy was this story’s Jane Eyre or if she was destined to become the madwoman in the attic. I’m not going to give away the ending, but comparing Maddy’s story to that of Jane Eyre is extremely thought provoking.
Everything, Everything is serious business. It deals with topics such as child abuse, emotional manipulation, and mental disorders, so if any of those might be triggers for you, read with caution. However, it’s also a teen romance. I kept thinking back to the days when I used to read Sarah Dessen voraciously and frequently. The love story is so genuine to teenage romances. Especially when Maddy is scrutinizing Ollie’s IMs to try to squeeze out every ounce of meaning. The mysterious “Hey.” turns out to have a multitude of possible interpretations.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that a lot of people will like Everything, Everything a lot. You should Definitely, Definitely read this book!
About the Author:
Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.
She is a proud member of the We Need Diverse Books team.