5 min read ⌚
What if you were allergic to everything and, thus forced to live in a bubble?
And what if, in spite of that, you fall in love?
“Everything, Everything” tries to answer both questions.
Who Should Read “Everything, Everything”? And Why?
“Everything, Everything” is a young adult novel, so, obviously, it should interest John-Green/Nicholas-Sparks-worshipping teenagers much more than adults, many of whom may find this book a bit melodramatic.
However, the book’s innovativeness, its lyrical descriptions, and heartwarming narrative may jerk more than one tear out of the eyes of many adults who don’t like YA novels so much, but who do want to leaf through a sentimental work or two from time to time.
If so, this one should be the next one on your I-want-a-break-from-all-this-madness list.
Nicola Yoon Biography
Nicola Yoon is a Jamaican-American author.
She majored in electrical engineering at Cornell University, but a creative writing class inspired her to subsequently attend the Master of Creative Writing program at Emerson College.
She wrote her debut novel, “Everything, Everything,” long after while working full-time as a programmer for an investment management firm and raising her first daughter. The book proved a huge success, and it was adapted into a movie released in May 2017.
In 2016, Yoon’s second book, “The Sun Is Also a Star,” was published, the film rights of which have been already acquired by MGM and Warner Brothers.
Everything, Everything Summary
Have you ever watched “Seinfeld”?
If so, you certainly remember the episode with the Bubble Boy, right? You know, the one with the boy who has to live in a bubble because unless he lives in a germ-free sterile environment, he may die instantaneously!
Well, the main character of Nicola Yoon’s debut novel “Everything, Everything” is a bubble girl, Madeline “Maddy” Whittier, who suffers from the very same disease.
She explains its nature and its consequences from the very start of the novel, telling us that her disease is “as rare as it is famous” and that it’s a form of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID):
“Basically, I’m allergic to the world,””she notes:
Anything can trigger a bout of sickness. It could be the chemicals in the cleaner used to wipe the table that I just touched. It could be someone’s perfume. It could be the exotic spice in the food I just ate. It could be one, or all, or none of these things, or something else entirely.
No one knows the triggers, but everyone knows the consequences. According to my mom, I almost died as an infant. And so I stay on SCID row. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years.
Maddy’s father and brother died a long time ago, so Maddy lives with her mother Pauline and her nurse Carla. She spends most of the time reading and watching the outdoors through the windows of her room.
One day, a family moves in next door.
Watching it from her window, Maddy notices three things.
One: that the father of this family is abusive and violent.
Two: that the daughter has a smoking problem.
And three: that the son is smoking hot.
Fortunately for Maddy, the son – whose name is Olly notices her back. Even more fortunately for her, despite Pauline’s attempts to keep Olly (and everyone else) away from Maddy, Carla has her back: one day, she sneaks the boy into Maddy’s house.
Soon enough, Olly basically becomes a part of the furniture of Maddy’s house every time Pauline is not around. And one time, Maddy even dares to leave her home for a few seconds!
Expectedly, Pauline finds out, and she bans Maddy from seeing Olly again. Even so, Maddy and Olly go on communicating by secretly texting each other.
After some time, they even decide to go on a holiday together to Hawaii.
Of course, the only reason why Olly would ever agree to such a foolish plan is a lie: Maddy tells Olly that she is on a new medicine and that she will be fine.
Surprise, surprise – she is not!
The second day in Hawaii, she begins to feel extremely sick and is taken to the hospital, where, for one brief moment, her heart stops beating.
Having found out about the young lovers’ plans in the meantime, Pauline travels to Hawaii and brings Maddy back home. Aware that SCID is not something you can mess around with, Maddy breaks off communication with Olly.
Barely a month passes, and Maddy sees Olly, his sister and their mother escaping in a van from the tyranny of their father.
Now, she doesn’t even have the chance to see him anymore.
And that should be the end of it, right?
Well, let us quote Yoon on that one:
Spoiler alert: Love is worth everything. Everything.
Everything, Everything Epilogue
One month after Olly leaves, Maddy receives a letter from the doctor who had treated her after her unfortunate Hawaii incident.
And the letter reveals something utterly strange: Maddy doesn’t have SCID. In fact, it’s the other way around: her immunodeficiency is the result of her enforced SCID row.
In simpler terms: Maddy is sick not because she was born that way, but because she has spent 17 years in a germ-free sick-secured environment which has never allowed her body to form a natural immunity.
This leads to one of two conclusions: either she was misdiagnosed as a child, or her mother is lying to her throughout her whole life!
Yes, it’s the second one: Maddy rummages through Pauline’s medical files, and all she discovers are just a few SCID-related internet articles!
So, why did she do such a horrible thing?
Two words: helicopter parenting.
After receiving some much-needed therapy, Maddy’s mother reveals to her that soon after the death of her husband and son, Maddy got very sick as well.
She didn’t want to lose her either, so, basically, after finding about this rare disease called SCID, she simply decided that Maddy has it as well. That way, she was able to keep her protected at all times.
The worst idea ever!
Oh, and we almost forgot the obligatory happy ending:
SCID-free, Maddy travels to New York and reunites with Olly.
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“Everything, Everything PDF Quotes”
Our Critical Review
Many epithets have been used to describe “Everything, Everything” and most of them have been beyond flattering.
The New York Times Book Review” called it “gorgeous and lyrical” and “SLJ,” simply, “wonderful, wonderful.
However, David Arnold may have been closest to the truth when writing that “Everything, Everything” offers “an entirely unique and beautiful reading experience.”
True to the case: even though we are not big fans of the sentimentality of YA novels, we would be lying if we said that this one didn’t attract our attention.
Built on a fairly original premise, “Everything, Everything” is nothing short of a masterpiece of its genre, definitely a book over which many teenagers will obsess for many years to come.