More of a modern retelling of “Rapunzel” than a stereotypical teenage love saga, Everything, Everything by the queen of contemporary literature, Nicola Yoon, voices a coming-of-age story. The story is narrated through the voice of Madeline Whittier, who suffers from a rare disease called SCID, or severe combined immunodeficiency. She hasn’t left her house in 17 years, and anyone who comes in must go through an airlock and long sanitation process before entering the contaminant-free home. Later in the story, we discover that her brother and father were killed in an accident when she was a baby, so her only relationships are with her mother and her nurse, Carla. Madeline is extremely cooperative and accepting of her isolated life, reading books, taking classes online, and spending time with her mum. That changes when Olly moves in next door. They catch each other’s eyes through the window, and through a series of pebble throwing and messages on windows, emails and social media chats they strike up a friendship over the Internet and eventually fall in love. For the first time in her life, Madeline wants more than what her safe, sanitised existence can give her. She struggles to decide whether it’s worth risking her life to experience it fully. Her physical and emotional journey reveals much about who she is and the lives of those she loves.
Nicola Yoon uses Madeline’s disease to good consequence this way. So when Madeline meets Olly, the reader truly anticipates how it would jiggle up her world. She doesn’t come across as an archetypal hormonal teen. We feel how badly she wants to see the exterior world and experience things, even if those involvements could cause her pain, emotionally and physically. Olly, the boy next door, is a good, concerned and compassionate character who’s dealing with an abusive, alcoholic father. Even though he and Madeline fall for each other pretty swiftly, it’s believable because they’re both in ill-fated, isolating circumstances and find solace in each other.
The book is suitable for anyone who is matured enough to understand the circumstances that the book represents. The minor graphic content (in the form of sexual contact) is completely up to the discretion of the guardian or parent. All in all, this un-put-down-able book is a must read and makes us understand how health is the largest wealth and urges us to seize the day and yearn for Everything, Everything!