Book Club: Everything, Everything
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Ever since I read Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star (my review here), I’d been interested to see what other works Yoon has written. I heard about Everything, Everything a while back because they made a movie based on it starring Amandla Stenberg (love her - you guys should watch The Hate U Give, and read my review on it while you’re at it). I immediately downloaded the audiobook from my library and started listening.
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
Related post: Book Club: The Sun is Also a Star
Okay, so if you read my review on Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is also a Star, you’ll probably roll your eyes and say, “Again??” when you hear that, well, I thought this book was cute! I can’t help it. The relationship between Maddy and Olly was adorable.
Maddy is, in a sense, a bubble baby. She has a disease that essentially renders her allergic to the world. Her father and brother have died in an accident years ago so she lives with her mom and her nurse, Carla. She hasn’t been outside for as long as she can remember. One day, a new family moves in next door. The family includes a boy near Maddy’s age, Olly. Through a series of window signs, the two exchange emails and begin to talk. They talk about Maddy’s disease, Olly’s abusive father, and various other teenage things. They are given permission by Carla (not Maddy’s mother) to meet and their romance takes off from there.
Related post: Book Club: An American Marriage
While I personally loved the book, I did read a lot of criticism from the community of people with disabilities. One particular review from Goodreads struck me because the reviewer was someone who actually was in a similar situation as Maddy (a “bubble baby” of sorts) and really couldn’t do ordinary things like sleep or even breathe without there being some kind of medical professional on hand to help. For her, the use of the disease as just simply a plot device was disheartening. If you read to the end, there’s a huge plot twist (I don’t want to give it away) but the reviewer found the ending to be upsetting as that’s not how most (if any) situations like theirs works out. The more I thought about it, the ending of the book could seem a bit as if it came from a place of privilege. Despite Maddy’s illness, she decides to take the risk of leaving her home for love. While this may seem beautiful and a good life lesson for some, this is only something someone can do if they literally won’t die from doing it.
I gave this book a 4 star rating on Goodreads because despite the able-bodied privilege aspect of the book that is problematic, I still really loved the writing of the book. It is well-written and the themes of illness, both mental and physical, as well as the diversity aspect of this book (Maddy is half black, half Japanese) was awesome to see. I really do recommend this book to everyone. If you do read it, or already have read it, let me know what you think of the ableism aspect of this book!