Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Corgi Childrens, 27 August 2015)
EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING is a short and sweet love story that's relatable but somewhat lacking in depth.
Madeline Whittier has SCID – Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or bubble baby disease. She's stayed inside her house for as long as she can remember, because she could be allergic to anything and she might die if she goes outside. One day, a new family moves in next door, with a boy called Olly who wears all black and climbs walls. Maddy takes a liking to Olly immediately – but how can a girl who can never leave her house fall in love with anyone?
I was so into this book at the beginning! First of all, it kicked off with a quote from THE LITTLE PRINCE, one of my all time favourite quotes from one of my all time favourite books, so I was already in love. We quickly find out that Maddy is biracial: half African American, half Japanese American. More biracial heroines in YA, yay! There are illustrations and notes and health logs and so many other cool things, which was awesome – and I loved finding out at the end that these illustrations were done by the author's husband. The illustrations are a really nice touch and they always brought a smile to my face.
I've mentioned before that I love relationships developing through online communication. There were lots of really cute IMs between Maddy and Olly as they first started to get to know each other. I could have read about them IM-ing each other forever, it was just so adorable.
As the book went on, however, I found myself wanting more development to the romance. I still thought Maddy and Olly were cute together but I just wasn't convinced that it was the sort of sweeping love that the book was trying to tell me it was. I wasn't really rooting for them to end up together – I honestly thought it could have been the type of book where they meet and fall in love and then they have to leave each other and move on and that would have been okay with me.
There was a fantastically complex twist towards the end, but the ending itself fell a little flat for me. It just seemed a bit too idealistic and abrupt. I felt the whole time that the book was only touching on the surface of things and it wasn't digging deep enough – with characters, with emotions. I really wanted the book to explore Maddy's mother more, because there's so much going on with her that's painful and fascinating at the same time, but we just get a glimpse of it. Maddy's dad and brother died when she was only a baby, and Maddy's mother is clearly still affected by her grief for her husband and lost child.
I honestly think my favourite aspect of this book was the relationship between Maddy and her mother, and how this book approached the topic of growing up and growing distant from your parents – your mother, in particular, as both Maddy and I live with only our mothers. I could really relate to that – how sometimes when you fall in love, it can feel like a choice between the person you're in love with and your mum, and how horrible and difficult that is when it seems like you're the whole world to her. It made me really think about my relationship with my own mother. There was this one quote which just broke my heart:
Maybe growing up means disappointing the people you love.
I related to Maddy in other ways too – her reaction to falling in love, her wanting to talk to Olly all the time and being all distracted because she's thinking about him – it was written so vividly and totally reminded me of how I felt when I first fell in love.
Overall, although I loved the writing, the story lacked depth for me and everything felt quite rushed and a little unrealistic at times. The book could have done with being a bit longer and exploring everyone's emotions more. The eARC that I have is only about 300 pages and a lot of the chapters are very short; it just went by too quickly, and I really feel like this book had the potential to be a lot more. Still, it was an enjoyable read that really made me think about a lot of things in my own life.