Occasionally a young adult novel surprises me with its depth. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is the latest to do that. She fills the novel with a likable, intelligent young lady who narrates her curious life alongside memorable side characters. The cast of characters is kept small, so it’s easy to feel close to each of the four main characters. The intermittent drawings, completed by Yoon’s husband, provide even further insight into Madeline’s character.
The novel is told from the perspective of 18 year old Madeline, who was diagnosed with SCID at a young age. This rare disease means that being in the outside world would make her extremely sick. She lives in a air controlled house with her mother and nurse. No one comes in without a thorough decontamination process. All of her books come cleaned and in shrink wrap. She completes classes via online tutors. Then a family moves in next door, and the interesting teenage boy catches her attention. Everything changes, and she starts to ponder a different future for herself in which she could love someone outside of her house.
My only question or complaint about the book is the fact that Madeline is 18 and still continuing high school classes, even at the end of the novel, which is about 6 months after the start. Yes, there are some seniors in public school who are 18, but Madeline has done all of her school work independently. She’s obviously bright and spends many hours a day studying. I feel like it would have been more plausible to either put her a year younger (although that would have messed up the idea of her applying for a secret credit card) or have her studying college material.
All in all I look forward to watching the film version and hopefully seeing a sequel in the future. I’d enjoy seeing her future life. No spoilers here, though, about what that future might hold.
Unfortunately (fortunately) finishing this book means I now have to re-read a few other books to decipher the reasons she referred to them so often. The first is The Little Prince, which I only vaguely remember. She says its meaning changes everytime she reads it, so re-reading shouldn’t be a bore for me. The second is Flowers for Algernon which I imagine has a relation to how she feels trapped in her own body. I’ve got it on hold from the Overdrive app, so if you’re that person who has it checked it out and not actively reading it, please return it.