I received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
‘Before him my life was a palindrome – the same forward and backward, like “Madam, I’m Adam.”’
Everything, Everything could be dismissed as yet another hyped up addition to the overcrowded YA contemporary genre. But when this genre is done right, it really is special (Think The Fault In Our Stars, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, etc). And for me, this one is pretty close to perfection.
The book’s protagonist is Madeleine Whittier, a teenager who suffers from a rare disorder called SCID, which means ‘Basically, I’m allergic to the world. Anything can trigger a bout of sickness.’ So she spends each and every day at home, with only her mother and her nurse, Carla, for company. She’s never interacted with people her own age, except occasionally online through her book blog (love that she’s a book blogger !). She gets her lessons through online modules, and believes high school to be a sort of ‘utopia’, the stuff that dreams are made of. Essentially, she’s a prisoner in her own home.
Maddy’s entire life revolves around routine; learning her lessons, reading books and spending time with her Mom. But when a new family moves in next door, everything changes. From her first glance at their teenage son, Olly, Maddy starts to wonder if she’s been missing the point of life all this time, and if living is about more than just staying alive. The two begin to arrange clandestine meetings without her mother’s knowledge, and as Maddy’s feelings for Olly grow, the confines of the home she’s known her entire life no longer seem like enough for her.
‘Ever since Olly came into my life there’s been two Maddys: the one who wants to live through books and doesn’t want to die, and the one who lives and suspects death would be a small price to pay for it.’
There are so many things I loved about this book; it’s so readable I got through it in just a day or two. Maddy makes constant references to books she loves and the main story is intercepted with her own mini book reviews, doodles, doctor’s notes, IM messages and more which keep it really engaging and make it a fun, varied read. The romance in this is a little insta-loveish – but why wouldn’t it be? Maddy has never interacted with a male her own age before, and their conversations are so adorable I couldn’t help falling in love with both of them too.
But this novel is about more than just the romance; at its core is a really important message about life. Life is a gift. Take risks. You’re not living if you’re not regretting. Love is everything. Everything. All of these phrases can be found in the book, and appear completely cliche when taken out of context. But this book about a girl who has spent her entire life in isolation, who risks everything to see the world and be with the person she loves, really brings the concept home.
For those who love a twist – there is a brilliant one in the final part of this novel, but the less said about it the better. Safe to say, all of my predictions were completely wrong. This book is a coming-of-age novel told in a completely original way; it’s a heartwarming romance, and it’s a love letter to life itself. I’d have no problem recommending it to just about anyone.