Thursday, September 24, 2015

REVIEW: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

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.

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Netgalley
Purchase a copy: Goodreads | Amazon



Shel: YOU GUYS.

Shel: This is not the YA I grew up with. I swear. This book and the new YA books I've read or am reading or SO MUCH BETTER than anything I had growing up. This makes me so excited because I have two young readers at home and to know that there are books out there that are representative of the diverse world we live in and interesting and well written makes me so happy for them (and my students). I love that we are reading heroines and heros who are multiracial, living with medical conditions, or discovering their identities, or living with and through eating disorders or depression or homelessness and showing the readers of the world that our fictional worlds are finally catching up and giving us characters who aren't the same old thing. Court: Right? I do suppose I caught at least the tail end of this new found development where HEA's aren't always quite so wrapped up in a bow. Life hurts, and it hurts just as much when you're a teen and adults might not think your problems are that big, but they are to you. This novel captured so many things that I was thinking "YES" a lot...because Madeline and Olly are right on the cusp of the rest of their lives but they have some serious obstacles in their path to life on their own, let alone as friends. This one also made my shelf for 'brilliant writing' and 'life changer' shelf, because it's one that I will remember always.

Shel: Everything, Everything was a breath of fresh air; reading Madeline go from knowing one way of life to another and experiencing her joys and hurts and exhilaration and contemplation was emotional. I found myself wanting to push her to do more and then to put on the brakes. There were times when I wanted to cover my eyes when I anticipated certain things (which is the dumbest thing ever, right?, because I need to see to read!) and towards the end, I just wanted to emote...a lot. (Poor Dahlia Adler, I exploded all over her twitter for about 20 minutes--I just needed to express the FEELS to someone who'd get me. *waves to Dahlia* Thanks, Dahlia!). I love when books do this to me, even if it feels slightly torturous when I'm experiencing. 

Court: I found Everything, Everything to be...well, everything...which is eloquent I know. But, I told Shel this a few times because as I was reading I thought this character is so strong and I related to her in her thought processes and how she saw the world. When we meet her, and immediately she is lamenting why she doesn't know why she labels her books as her own property when she'll never lend to anyone...I found that funny and I loved her voice. Madeline is a character with a serious struggle in all planes - physically, of course, but also emotionally and one could say that with all of the things she has given to her what could she possibly have to complain about? Well, read it and weep, because she really is on a journey here to explore all of the things life has to offer...even if it is from the comfort of her glass house.

Shel: Not only did I love reading through Madeline's eyes, I enjoyed all of the graphics/charts/drawings. I think showing those things added a layer to understanding Madeline. I also thought the chapter titles and her 'dictionary' entries were fantastic. And I know you're thinking well that's all great and good but what about Olly? The mysterious and great Olly. Watching Madeline watch Olly and fall for him was bittersweet because I knew, JUST KNEW!, where this was ending--you know, how those first crushes and first loves do that number on your heart and you learn from it and it hurts but it's good? I was certain that's where this was going and I was so busy anticipating the hurt of that that the ending completely did a number on me and instead of feeling sad, I put it down with a smile. Court: It hurt so good. It was really beautiful to me, because I felt nostalgic for the feelings of something new and exciting. I think that is the best thing for me about a YA book, because it isn't just that...a book for me is a beautiful masterpiece even if someone thinks I might be too old for it! Hah. I'll never be too old. But, I digress. Knowing Madeline's emotions and how realistic she is about things was also refreshing. I can't get over how great the writing is of this book, how it is actually a debut! and how excited I am to read more from Nicola Yoon. 

Shel: As I'm sitting here basking in my love of this book, I can anticipate that some may quibble with the medical things in this book, or how much of this scenario could or could not happen and why. This is where my limited medical background comes in handy because while I was curious about how much of this could happen, knowing the factual things about Madeline's medical condition didn't inhibit me from enjoying how she felt and experienced the life. There were other elements that some might quibble with as well, and I don't feel that I can really explore those without spoiling, but I'll just say that the more fictional aspects of Madeline's journey didn't bother me at all. Kudos to the writing and Yoon's ability to completely pull me into her book and not making me stop to wonder about the hows and whys and ifs certain things could happen. Whether you agree with me or not about that, I think we can all agree that we love our heroine and how Olly respects and cares for her; how they talk about who they are and where they came from and find the other one wondrous and beautiful because of, not despite, these things.

Court: I'm so glad you mentioned this. And I'm glad you're thinking, yeah, why are you glad Courtney? Well, I'll tell you. It's because in this fictional world where we are 'expecting' realism, there are some parts that you'll be thinking...uh, why, uh no, what? So, I was excited too that the writing, the relationships, the scenarios outside of all of 'that' collectively are too good to miss. Don't be disappointed by certain things, but instead be embracing of the themes, the diversity, the coming of age story that this is and you'll hopefully enjoy it as much as we did. I might wish there was a bit more fleshing out at the end of a certain character and her having a more complete ending...but...I'm at peace with where our journey took us, and excited about it still. 

Shel: I suppose if I'm being completely honest, I had one or two spots that pulled me out of the narrative, a little. Mostly they had to do with Olly and a section where he's sharing a moment with his dad. Because of the way the novel is set up, I had a question about whether that was Madeline retelling this or actually from him. Court: Yes, I had to re-read that part too. Shel: I also found myself wanting to know more of his story, which isn't really all that fair since this is Madeline's story. It's just that Yoon made them both so interesting, I wanted more and more and more. As a matter of fact, I'm sitting here right now wondering what she envisions for them right now. And I guess that says it all doesn't it? That I'm sitting here on a Friday night still thinking about these characters tells me that this is not a novel I'll forget soon. I can't wait for you guys to discover this one, too. I think you're going to really enjoy it.

Shel: So to sum up, after all of this rambling, you'll love this book if you:

  • like reading about first loves 
  • like to laugh 
  • like interesting charts and graphics 
  • like when characters IM (I loved this part!) 
  • like a very solid cast of secondary characters 
  • like to catch a good case of the FEELS as you're reading 
  • can suspend reality and it doesn't bother you, for parts 
  • like reading through the eyes of a multiracial young woman diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder 
Court: Check, times all of that. This is a debut that I won't be forgetting soon either, because of things that happen that I can't tell you...and things that are going on with me I find it a beautiful thing that there is words out there put together that can help put a tiny piece of glue on a cracked soul, and make things better. This is what Everything, Everything is to me, and I hope you'll take a look at it. 

Shel: I liked all of these things and more and I will not hesitate to buy this book for classroom, buy it for my daughters, and will be looking forward to the next work from Nicola Yoon.

About this author:

Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.





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