I'll Give You Everything, Everything
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (published 2015)
A few weeks ago, I was wandering around Instagram, as is my new hobby with this blog, and looking at various publisher's pages when I came across this endearing photo of Nicola Yoon on the set of Everything, Everything. I hadn't heard of this book before, I admit. Then I started clicking on her page and saw the actors and then went on Amazon etc. Someone compared Maddy and Olly to Mia and Adam (from Gayle Forman's If I Stay/Where She Went) and Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell), two of my favorite YA couple OTPs right now. So of course, I dove right in.
Right off the bat, I couldn't turn my doctor brain off--why does Maddy have SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency)? Or more importantly, why did Yoon decide to have her character have SCID? But I was immediately drawn in my Maddy's voice and character that I let that part go. And, in doing so, came to realize why SCID at a pivotal moment. I will say that I had been working on a novel a few years ago (my first NaNo attempt) that has a character who has SCID. But SCID therapies are changing so much and I'm still doing research (since Infectious Diseases and Immunology are not my specialty). On top of that, Olly does some amazing parkour tricks, something my husband and Mini Me Bookworm have been taking classes in. And, yes, Mr. Bookworm got into parkour because he was researching it for the sci-fi/fantasy novel he is working on. So many coincidences, right?
Aside from me teasing my husband about these coincidences, as I said above, I was drawn right into Maddy's world, limited as it may seem. Nicola Yoon adds so many details that make this world come alive--I completely suspend my disbelief and imagine myself in Maddy and Olly's lives. If you're confused because you don't know what the book is about so you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain. Maddy has SCID, basically the boy in the bubble disease, which means she is susceptible to all kinds of infections due to poor immunity. So she lives inside her house, behind filters, behind sealed plastic, for most of her eighteen years of life. Enter the boy next door. Olly, of course.
Despite obstacles, Maddy and Olly manage to forge a bond. And, like any great YA author, Nicola Yoon makes us believe in this pairing and in their chemistry and in their words. Maddie is a bibliophile, and maybe that's what draws me to her. Her views on life, her Life is Short book reviews by Madeline Whittier, and her love of The Little Prince won me over. Below are some of my favorite illustrations from the book, which were drawn by Nicola Yoon's husband, David Yoon. As you might be able to tell from these excerpts, Everything, Everything is told in a traditional narrative form in sections but also in other forms that include Maddie's book reviews and observations plus email, IMing, pantomime and writing on windows. You'll see.
I related as well to Maddy's mom--a doctor knowing a little bit too much about tragedy and what could happen to her child. I'll admit, it's hard not to keep asking 'why' in this book. However, Nicola Yoon creates this story with such care that I'm able to suspend my disbelief anyway. A writer's biggest accomplishment: creating a world and keeping us in it for the duration. And if you fall in love with her characters? Well, that's just gravy. (Icing? I guess it depends on if you're sweet or savory.)
Rating: I'll confess that I wanted to read this one right away but I've been burned before so I checked it out as an eBook from my library. While I enjoyed being able to read it on my phone, I purchased a real book copy of this one right after reading it. Some of the illustrations were difficult to read/see on my phone, but might be okay on my Kindle. But (confession) I won't be turning on the Wi-Fi to my kindle any time soon. Why? Because I have When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi on there and I'm 2/3 of the way through it. Why haven't I finished it? Because I know he dies. And I don't think my heart can take it, even though I know it. As someone who loves literature and biology/medicine just like Kalanithi, I related to him a little too much. So I can't bear to 'see' him die. I keep wondering about his widow and the beautiful daughter he left behind.
Sorry for the long rambling side note: conclusion, definitely buy Everything, Everything, but I recommend the book version. You will have a dog-eared copy in no time and you will enjoy its format better.
Other side note: I tried to buy Everything, Everything at Barnes and Noble and it wasn't there! I looked everywhere. Now, this is a smaller B&N but still points to the fact that it's so hard to buy books in bookstores these days. Only recently published (though this book was published in 2015, shouldn't it be there?!) or extremely popular books can be found. I guess that will change once this movie comes out, but still. I resorted to ordering it online. So I can read it again and again. And, bonus! The first chapter of her new book is included! The Sun is Also a Star drops in just a few weeks (Nov 1). I think I'll be pre-ordering that one. And you should too because if you pre-order, you can receive some of its book-related swag!
And if anyone knows the reference to the title of my post, you're my people. For those of you who don't, it's a spin on one of the more popular songs by one of my favorite bands of the 80s, Dramarama. Yes, when I was a teen I saw them play more times than I can remember with my twin and our friend, Liz. And, yes, I still have my Edie Sedgewick shirt somewhere (that I had made at Kinko's back in the day), who I discovered from their discography. Somehow I was allowed to write a paper on her when I was in (Catholic all-girl) high school even though she died of a drug overdose (at the magic, tragic age of 28).
Ages: This is a tough one to gauge for me. It's definitely a YA book but there's nothing detailed per se in it. However, Mini-Me Bookworm has been curious to read it and so far I've said no. So maybe I'll say 12 and up? And likely I'll let Mini-Me read this one as she's so tempted--it's a pretty book--inside and out--and I've been raving about it, so of course she wants to read it. So if your 10-year-old is mature like mine is (as a person and in reading level), maybe 10 and up?