Everything, Everything

Once in a while I find myself wishing I could have a do-over when it comes to parts of high school. Then I remember all of the homework, tests, and angst, and that daydream easily slips away. Instead, I’ve learned to fill that fleeting (some may say silly) desire with a book, and thankfully there’s an abundance of tremendous teen novels to choose from. Most recently I read Nicola Yoon’s debut novel Everything, Everything and enjoyed it immensely. So much so, that I’ve recommended it to a number of friends.

Maddy isn’t your typical high school senior. She was born with a rare disease which keeps her locked inside her house at all times. Other than her mom and her beloved nurse she has no contact with the outside world. But she’s predominantly happy with her insular world full of books, daydreams, and school work.

Indeed, Maddy’s love of reading is quite a focal point throughout the story. Her funny book reviews and drawings are delightful additions. At one point she explains that “Sometimes I reread my favorite books from back to front. I start with the last chapter and read backward until I get to the beginning. When you read this way, characters go from hope to despair, from self-knowledge to doubt. In love stories, couples start out as lovers and end as strangers. Coming-of-age books become stories of losing your way. Your favorite characters come back to life.” I thought to myself what a strange and wondrous idea. It would definitely be interesting to try reading one of my favorites this way.

For the most part everything is fine in Maddy’s life. That is until a new family moves in next door and she sees Olly for the first time. She quickly realizes that she wants so much more out of life, like a life. I’m not a big fan of reading book jackets so I don’t want to give away too much of the story. Let me just reassure you that this a delightful and thought provoking novel. It’s about first love. It’s about the complicated, beautiful, and heartbreaking relationship that exists between mothers and daughters. And most of all it’s about having dreams and reaching for them.

Until next time, happy reading!

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