Update: a lot of my friends, and many people I don’t know, have been hurt by this book’s shock twist and I know agree that this book is ableist. I’m finding review to link to that will be able to explain this better than I could but I’m sorry that I didn’t pick up on how distressing this book would be to read as a disabled person.
I feel fairly privileged to have read two wonderful debut novels in as many days. Yesterday I finished The Versions of Us and on a whim picked up Everything, Everything after a post by a Facebook friend reminded me I owned it. I managed to get six hours of sleep and a whole days work in and still finished it fairly early this evening. I loved it.
Maddy has an extreme case of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency and hadn’t left her home in seventeen years. Her mother, a doctor, has done everything to protect her including turning their home into an airtight filtered clean room. Soon after her eighteenth birthday Maddie watches as a new family moves in next door and it’s not long until she ‘meets’ Olly from afar. I really liked the way their romance developed, turns out I’m pretty sympathetic to the idea of falling in love via messages with someone you can’t touch, and the ways they lean on one another are interesting. Maddy is very naive, Olly has a troubled home life… But they fit well and I had no trouble believing in them.
I also loved the way the book was set out. Maddy’s thoughts take up the bulk but emails, IMs, illustrations (drawn by the author’s husband), one line book reviews and Maddy’s own definitions of words give a much wider picture of the story Nicola Yoon is telling. There’s just enough clues to tell you the real story, if you look hard enough, and Nicola Yoon is really clever with her details. Her writing is superb as well.
This insole of those hooks where I feel like I need to have a lie down after finishing it until the world makes sense again. It was wonderful.