Nicola Yoon’s beautifully written novel seems to have everything (everything). A diverse lead character, a mysterious neighbor, a tragic love, and a beautiful cover. What else could a reader want?
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Everything, Everything: a quick summary
Eighteen year old Madeline is use to her routine. Her life revolves around school, her mom, and her nurse , Carla. She is content in her safe bubble, until she sees Olly. From the moment she sees Olly, something changes. She wants more to her life than exploring the world that is forbidden to her on the internet or in books. She wants to see and experience everything.
Olly has a difficult home life. Through the window, Madeline can see his dad’s drinking, his parents arguing, and the domestic violence that ensues. Watching Olly’s world through the window makes her want to know more about the boy in black who likes to sit on the roof.
In the span of a few months, Madeline’s perspective of the world changes. Since talking to Olly online and then meeting him in person, she wants more than the life she is forced to live. She has decisions to make and she’s never had to make them before. In order to experience love and life, she risks hers. And who hasn’t risked something for love?
Madeline is brave. In a world that tells her that she cannot leave her sterile home, she does. There is a side to that line of thinking that clearly shows that Madeline is being selfish for not thinking about the people in her life who love her. That she is reckless. I say, what 18-year-old isn’t selfish and reckless. The notion that there is a clear thinking 18-year-old is far-fetched.
Everything, Everything is beautifully written and I love the diverse characters. The triangle of girl, boy, illness has been done before (see Fault in Our Stars), but this triangle has a happy (ish) ending after a near death experience. Madeline’s decision to run away and experience the world, again, isn’t new, but it is well written. The buildup towards the “twist” felt a little superficial and not unexpected. Something drastic had to happen in order for this book to have closure. I wish they would have focused more on the mother’s illness than Madeline’s.
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