Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything, makes a heartwarming debut with this novel. It is a story about a 17-year-old girl named Madeline Whittier. Maddy has a rare disease called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, forcing her to never leave her home. The only people she ever sees is her mother and her nurse, Carla. Her life is completely transformed when a new family moves in next door to her.
If it wasn’t for the cover and illustrations done by David Yoon, her husband, I would have never read this book. The art captures the eye and the wanderlust of the novel. While the synopsis might deter people away, assuming it will be hardly relatable, Maddy’s inner conflicts are far from out of the ordinary.
Despite being essentially trapped in a bubble, Maddy is a typical teenager. She desires to see the world, take risks and fall in love, all while maintaining family relationships and good grades.
It was so easy to relate to and feel exactly what Maddy was going through. The novel also covers many areas of difficult life challenges such as losing a family member, mental illness, abusive homelife and, of course, medical disabilities.
Yoon sprinkles life lessons all throughout the book to compliment the characters struggles.
Great quotes are sprinkled throughout the book. A few favorites:
“Spend some time with your mother. Boys come and go, but mothers are forever.”
“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”
“Loving someone as fiercely as my mom loves me must be like wearing your heart outside of your body with no skin, no bones, no nothing to protect it.”
It is a refreshing, diverse and modern-day romance. The relationship between Olly and Maddy builds through a series of instant messages. Yoon even made Olly’s hobby parkour.
Not to mention, she brings light to culture by making Maddy African American and her nurse Carla is Latina. The novel genuinely reflects the world we currently live in.
The final page is one of the novel’s best. Maddy has flown all the way to New York to meet Olly after a long time of not speaking to each other. She has finally figured out who she is and what she wants. She is determined to live her life how she wants.
“I was trying so hard to find the single pivotal moment that set my life on its path. The moment that answered the question, ‘How did I get here?’
“But it’s never just one moment. It’s a series of them. And your life can branch out from each one in a thousand different ways. Maybe there’s a version of your life for all the choices you make and all the choices you don’t,” Maddy thinks.
I truly fell in love with this novel and it will forever be one of my favorites. In the beginning I found it to be a bit choppy, but once I got past the first 30 pages or so I couldn’t put it down. It has everything you want in a book: hardships overcome, adventure, diversity, and romance. There is nothing more to ask for.
I recommend this book for anyone, especially those who love John Green. I would also recommend reading it soon; its movie debut is May 19.