Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the Island) and Brooklyn (in Long Island). She now lives in Los Angeles California with her husband and daughter. Both she and her husband David Yoon spend their time talking about stories and reading to their 3-year old daughter, Penny. Everything, Everything is Nicola’s first novel. David created the illustrations that we see as we read this extraordinarily fresh novel about love; how love’s power can cause people to pursue their desires, protect those they care for and betrayal from those you least expect, as you learn what it means to be alive in this great big world.
Our main character and narrator of the story “Maddy” has SCID. You may know it as “bubble baby disease”, which in the simplest of terms means she’s allergic to the world, anything and everything can cause her sickness with harsh consequences. For instance, it could be the chemicals in a cleaner used to clean a table that she’s touched, the smell of someone’s perfume, or a spice in some exotic food she ate. It could also be all of these things, or something else or none of them at all; the problem is no one knows what the triggers are but they all know the serious consequences that the triggers can cause. Due to this lifelong illness Maddy doesn’t leave her house much she hasn’t left her house in seventeen years, at least not since the death of her father and brother.
One day she “meets” (more like watches intensively from the safety of her bedroom window) Olly the new boy next door who’s determined to find a way to reach her. She’s not sure why, but for Maddy meeting Olly changes things; she no longer wants to be “ghost girl”, the girl who always watches but never interacts. Maybe it’s the fact that Olly teaches her about the world, things she can’t learn from her mother (who’s also her doctor), her nurse Carla, or even her tutors during her online classes. There’s also a possibility that it’s the fact that Olly has problems of his own (a family broken because of his drunken father), that makes her want to risk everything to help make things right, at least a little better than they already are.
Throughout this book Maddy must answer one of life’s most important questions: Live life in a bubble? Or risk everything for love?
There’s quite a few things I enjoyed about this book: the drawing, the cover design, the characters, the plot twist, and the message I believe is behind it. However, as we don’t have time to talk about all of that (nowadays we’re all busy with our lives), I’ll mainly focus on the character and drawings. So what I liked about the book is the character Maddy – she’s funny, kind, smart, and we get to see her experience a lot of things for the first time. Also she has an excellent selection of books that she reads throughout the novel, so what’s not to love? (If you like I could even review some of the books Maddy talks about.) Then there’s Olly, he’s funny, kind, and to Maddy, very cute and thanks to his acrobatic skills, very cool. I like the way these characters show how life is always changing; you’re never sure of something unless you live life and experience it for yourself. Also the drawings are a nice addition to the story – I like the way they make parts of Maddy’s life seem real and not just from a novel. For instance, the charts showing her blood pressure, her emails, her letters, the clothes she orders online, and get ready for spoilers here! A ticket to a place she’s never been to before.
I think the message behind this book is life is all about taking risks; it’s better to regret doing something in this big wide world of ours, than not do anything at all. Overall, this book is about what it means to be alive, after all they say love can’t kill you.