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.
The Good Bits.
The protagonist Madeline aka Maddy is biracial: her mom is Asian and her dad is black. It’s always great to see more POC characters in books so I was happy with that. There’s also a diversity of class and home life. Both Maddy and her love interest Olly live in an upper-middle class neighbourhood, but Olly’s father is abusive and an alcoholic. I appreciated that a different sort of home life was brought into the mix, though it wasn’t explored as much as I thought it should be.
Format and Illustrations
Throughout the book, there’re little illustrations,and emails, and diagrams. I enjoyed all these cute add-ons. I think it’s fun when authors deviate from the typical narrative style and mix it up. So much of our world now is mixed media that it’s refreshing to see some of that in a book.
Because of Maddy’s illness, her mother is in a constant state of worrying about her. Which is understandable, because if any sort of stray germ can kill your kid, why wouldn’t you be? But her worry presents itself is with a lot of controlling behaviour. And I’m not talking about making sure her vitals are taken regularly or that she goes to school. I’m talking about banning her from using the internet to communicate with Olly and generally controlling all her human interaction. I was upset that this more subtle form of abuse wasn’t addressed as such. It was a perfect opportunity for Maddy to connect with Olly over something deeper, and they never talked about it after. And she never called it for what it was.
I have no idea why Maddy and Olly even like each other. In a way, as a teenager going through their first relationship I understand that they don’t need a ton in common to be a couple. The same goes for adult couples. But for the way their love is described, you’d think they were soulmates. Olly, I feel, is constantly trying to get Maddy to be ‘normal’. I know she puts herself at risk of her own free will, but he’s more than happy to let her. Would your ‘soulmate’ make you think you had to risk death to be with them? I don’t think so.
[su_spoiler title=”Click for Spoilers” style=”fancy”]At the end of the novel it turns out, SURPRISE, Maddy was never sick. Her mother, traumatised from losing Maddy’s dad and brother in a car accident, became afraid of losing her daughter, and so she convinced herself that Maddy was sick. And then Maddy leaves home and travels to New York (where Olly now lives) and meets up with him. I have so many issues with this:
- This feels like the ‘miraculous’ cure. It suggests that if Maddy was actually sick, that she and Olly would have never been together. I’m so annoyed because the entire time Olly seemed like he wished for her to be ‘normal’ and their relationship hinged on that happening. I don’t understand why she and Olly couldn’t learn to have a relationship where both of them accepted Maddy as she is.
- Maddy hasn’t spoken to Olly for months and deletes every message he sends to her. Then all of a sudden she sends him a single message and he forgives her like nothing? Uhhh, no. That is not how you treat a person. You don’t ignore them and then get to pop back into their life. Especially for a character like Olly who grew up watching his mother in an unhealthy relationship.
- Maddy and her mom have this close but complicated relationship, but she loves her mom. And yet, she doesn’t stay to support her mom through her illness. If love is everything, (everything) why would you leave your parent in their time of need for a boy? That being said, I can understand her desire to get away from her mother, because of the way she controlled and kept her in that house.
- It was beyond predictable. It took a hot minute for me to guess the ending. The second she went out of the house and didn’t die immediately, I knew what was going to go down. Briefly, I thought I might be wrong and got excited, but I wasn’t.[/su_spoiler]
The Last Bite.
I wanted to like this book. I don’t often read and enjoy contemporary, but the unique premise of Everything, Everything drew me in and demanded my attention. Ultimately, I was disappointed by an ending that didn’t resolve any of the issues it brought up about family home lives. Instead, it focused on a relationship based on one person risking everything for another. And taking advantage of the person they’re risking everything for.
Madeline aka Maddy cannot go outside without risking illness, but after meeting Olly is unsatisfied with staying indoors. Do you think long distance relationships eventually require a physical element to be meaningful or no? Why?
What are some of the best and worst examples of parents you’ve seen in books?
Let’s do lunch again next week!