By Nicola Yoon
I would never have picked up this book except that one of my favorite blogs, bitches gotta eat, decided to start an online reading club, of sorts, and chose this as the first ‘assignment.’ Samantha was totally upfront about how this so-called ‘book club’ was basically the books she wants to read and she will post the titles and that’s about it – there will be no discussion, no question-and-answers, no nothing; we can just read the books and take whatever comfort we want that perhaps other people are also reading it. I didn’t quite believe her and I didn’t want to be left out of any subsequent blog posts, so I put a hold on the book and then forgot about it per usual.
True to her word, though, Samantha didn’t follow up on the book at all, and a month later simply wrote that now she would be reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I had actually just then finished reading Carry On, per Kinsey’s recommendation, and completely adored it, so when Everything Everything finally came in at the library, I had residual good feelings toward Samantha’s picks.
Everything Everything is narrated by 18-year-old Madeline, who was diagnosed with SCID as an infant and has lived in her hermetically-sealed house for her entire life. An attractive boy her age moves next door and her interest in him opens her to the rest of the world that she has been cut off from. Sounds terrible, right? I hate romantic coming-of-age stories and I hate rare disease stories, and the only thing that tempted me to even crack the cover is that the narrative creatively includes IMs, emails, diary entries, and illustrations, and I do appreciate multimedia storytelling.
You guys, maybe I’m turning into a big softy, but I absolutely loved it! Madeline is so smart and funny and personable that her voice really carries the novel. Olly, the boy next door, is interesting and nuanced, and I quickly started to care about his story, as well. Additionally, the premise, with this life cut off from all outside human contact, discusses what life actually means, and how different people all cope, either well or poorly, with different kinds of loss, and how to still build a life worth living, which is definitely something that I find personally relevant right now.