Author: Nicola Yoon
**I received a copy of this book through NetGalley which does not affect my review**
Madeline Whittier has been a prisoner in her home for her whole life. As a baby she was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), a rare life-threatening disease that forces her to live in isolation. Madeline’s constants include her doctor, who is also her mother, her nurse, Carla, and her books. When a new family moves into her neighborhood and Madeline starts an unlikely friendship with their son Olly, her safe and structured life no longer feels like enough. Now Madeline must decide if living is worth the risk.
Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything is the story of a girl who discovers that living is more than taking that next breath. Madeline has been physically isolated from the outside world and has also learned to build an emotional wall around herself in order to protect herself from what she refers to as “false hope.” No matter how much she might want something, her illness will never allow her to have them. Her close relationship with her mother is an example of two lonely people finding happiness in a small, limited world. Madeline’s nurse, Carla, provides a different kind of support and often holds a different perspective on life than the one Madeline has embraced over the years.
Routine is the norm for Madeline, so Olly’s lack of predictability breathes life into her stagnant lifestyle. His tumultuous relationship with his father is a direct contrast to Madeline’s experience with her mother. While Madeline and Olly live very different lives, they both feel helpless because of circumstances beyond their control. In the end, however, they both have opportunities to break the cycle that has had them feeling trapped for far too long. And just as importantly, through their relationship Madeline learns that being vulnerable even when one understands there is a possibility of loss opens the door to things like love, which isn’t possible if you hide yourself from the world.
While I really enjoyed the evolution of Madeline and Olly’s relationship, I did feel the book could have expanded more on the protagonist’s disease. I also wanted to know more about her childhood and why her nurse was so apprehensive about Madeline’s friendship with Olly. It’s hinted that Madeline had a hard time when a former neighbor moved, but we’re never given the full story. I also think the book could have benefited from a dual perspective because although I enjoyed Olly’s character, I think having a more intimate look at the novel from his perspective would have further enriched the story.