I believe that the first time I heard about this book was at YALC this year. There was postcard at the desk full of book merch, and something struck me about this book. When I got home and found out I had to wait until I was (almost) back at school to read it, I was devastated. Then I found it on NetGalley, and I instantly requested it, and needless to say, my gut instinct was right.
Madeline has SCID, a condition that severely affects her immune system. She hasn’t left her house in years, because if she goes outside, she could die. She only ever sees her nurse Carla, and her mum. Her classes are online, and she loves books. And that’s the way it’s always been. But then one day the moving truck shows up. A family moves in next door. He gets out, and he’s tall, lean, wearing all black. His name is Olly. If she falls in love with Olly, it’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. But maybe the biggest risk to us all is never taking one. (Yes I stole that from the cover. I’m sorry!)
Whilst I was on Goodreads to get the cover for this book, I scrolled down a bit further and read a few other reviews. One person used a term that I really liked, and it’s ‘instalove.’ It’s that idea that the first time they see the other, they fall incontestably in love with each other and everything is perfect. I can’t help but agree with Emily May on Goodreads: it did have a sense of instalove, and that did mean the book took a slight blow.
There is also one other thing as well, and this seems to be something that I think but nobody else has yet (please correct me if I’m wrong!). Madeline has SCID. She falls in love with a perfect boy, who has his own flaws. They take a long trip together, even though they are told not to. The girl’s mother wants her to have everything, but also wants what’s best, so comes across slightly mean at times. Does this sound like another sick character in another popular book, curiously also published by Penguin Random House? I’m looking at you, Hazel Grace Lancaster…
I also believe that it seems like we’ve reached a stage where we’re now using illnesses as fictional material. In some ways, that’s amazing: it means we’re shedding light on previously unthought of illnesses. SCID is something I did not for a second think would ever be written about, and this book has helped me understand it a bit more as well. But where do we stop using illnesses?
In many other ways though, it’s really unfair to compare this book to The Fault In Our Stars, or All The Bright Places, or Amy & Matthew, or any other similar books. It’s different for several different reasons, including the fact that the ending is different to that that John Green imagined.
The book is so uniquely imagined, and it’s so well told! I find it hard to believe that this is Nicola’s debut. What do we have to come next if this is what we have to start off with?!
Also, a round of applause to Nicola for a diverse book. The main character is African-American, and so we should applaud Nicola for including a diverse character, as they are so needed and I for one definitely appreciate them being represented.
Everything, Everything is a bold and courageous debut, and I’m excited to read what Nicola writes next.