“Everything Everything” by Nicola Yoon


asteriaiconI picked up this novel after hearing it was going to be a movie (a movie that skipped over my small city), and honestly the pretty cover intrigued me.

The story follows Madeline, a young teenage girl who is incredibly sick. Maddy had a rare disease where she is essentially allergic to everything. She cannot leave her house, and basically lives in a sanitized bubble.

One day new neighbours move in next door and Maddy watches the new family as they unpack, from the strange gymnastic teen son Olly, to the extremely abusive father. Olly catches her looking out the window at them one day, and decides to come over and introduce himself. Naturally, a romance ensues, as these things often do. If you are going to ask how a relationship can happen when one party lives in a bubble…well…you are just going to have to read the book to find out. I can’t give everything away!

The novel was a fast read. I was done in a few hours, which isn’t easy for me, I tend to be a slow reader, but with quick simple words, some small drawings and journal entries on full pages, it is easy to fly though.

While I do like a romance, especially in a teen book, the story really isn’t believable, but I tried to let it slide, I really did try! I liked how the author used modern day and old fashioned methods for the teens to communicate such as using online chatting but also window miming. I also liked that the author made mention of the fact our lead girl is Japanese-American, yet didn’t make a huge deal of it. She was just a normal teen girl with normal teen feelings…who happens to be sick.

The ending really ruined this for me. First, I found the ending rushed. I wanted to know more of what happens to Maddy and Olly. But ultimately my biggest problem with the whole thing was the representation of someone with an illness or disability.

I applaud the author writing about someone with a disability; it really is an area with little representation. Yet I felt that there wasn’t enough research, and was not overly supportive of people with disabilities.

I can understand why Maddy was reluctant to tell Olly of her condition, but I felt that it was more due to shame. Why be ashamed? Yes she is sick, but she is also highly intelligent, and loves to read, among other things. There is more to her than her illness, and I felt her being ashamed took away everything else that she was.

The ending itself seemed to give the idea that one cannot have a happy ending if you have a disability, which really bothers me. Some of the decisions made by both Maddy and Olly seemed extremely reckless and dangerous, not to mention highly improbable. Yes, Maddy has to live her life still and not be confined by her illness, and teens will be teens, but it just seemed to give the impression of not taking a disability seriously.

Ultimately, I felt like the author tried to capitalize on a teen novel trend. The book is similar in nature to The Fault in Our Stars and All The Bright Places, and I loved both of these novels, yet these books were well researched, well thought out, and took nothing lightly. This book to me just missed the mark entirely. I am no longer upset that the movie didn’t make it in my city anymore.

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