Everything Everything

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Giggle, cry, fist pump, fall in love, be heartbroken. Everything Everthing will make you do all of that. It is sweet and cheesy and adorable and fun and hopeful and terribly terribly sad.

Madeline hasn’t been outside her house for 17 years, not since she was diagnosed with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or the bubble disease) when she was still a baby. She is allergic to the world. Her home is monitored and filtered and there is an airlock to enter.  She does all her school work by Skype, and sees only her doctor mother and her nurse, Carla.  And it’s ok.

Until Olly moves in next door.  And she takes one look at him, tall, lanky, all dressed in black, and knows it will be a disaster.

Madeline and Olly are fantastic characters. Madeline has made peace with her life, and learned to turn off thoughts of the outside world, in case it made her want more. She accepts her four-walled prison, and tries to make the most of her existence, reading, studying, pretending. Discovering the world through Olly, and her excitement at new emotions and experiences with him, leapt off the page. She is incredibly vibrant. He, in turn, all jaded and tough and full of teenage angst and anger and hurt, softens into a big marshmallow with her. SO CUTE.

The secondary characters, if you call any character in a book with such a small cast secondary, really add to the story. Nurse Carla is warm and loving and practical. Sister Kara is rude and defiant. Zachariah dyes his hair four colours and understands secrets.

The execution is great. The addition of pictures and graphs, copies of texts and e-mails, adds realism and insight. What teen doesn’t live on-line as much as in the real world? Nicola Yoon’s writing style is reminiscent of a personal diary; her descriptions of Madeline’s world are vivid, without getting bogged down in too much detail.

The one small issue I had with the story was Madeline’s relationship with her mother. It seemed a bit forced, as if Yoon wanted to make sure we KNOW that Madeline is sweet and her mother loves her more than anything, and life in a bubble with only two other people can be lovely.  I’m sorry.  Show me a teenage girl who has not been rude or harsh or disrespectful or even mildly put-out with her mother, no matter the extenuating circumstances.  Her mom would still love her fiercely even if she was a humungous pain in the ass sometimes… This was by no means a deal-breaker for me with the book, just a facet that stood out.

I did guess the twist at the end, but not because Yoon made it obvious. It was more luck and hope on my part.

Appropriate for all teens, and anyone who remembers the best and worst of young love.

Everything Everything is published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.

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