Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fiction
“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.”
It’s no secret that I have been extremely eager to read this book. With the movie coming out in about seven days (six if we count the midnight release) I felt pressed for time to finish it. The reading slump was of course no big help. To say that I pushed myself to get through it wouldn’t be a complete lie. However it was the easiest time I’ve ever had “pushing” myself through a book. If I was reading any other book, I don’t think I would have gotten over this hump.
Yoon does a wonderful job of presenting many strong aspects about family. The loss of family, the overwhelming love of family, and even the struggle of being in a toxic family. Most of the characters that she has created handle the situations as best anyone can hope for. Though she has written them as young teenagers, they handle their problems with a maturity beyond their years. As an adult, this made it very easy to understand and relate to the characters. That isn’t something often found in YA books these days.
Madeline is probably the worlds most sheltered girl. She has spent her entire life inside the confines of her own home. This thanks to her Severe Combined Immune Deficiency or SCID. The air is filtered, no one can come inside without her mothers permission. Even then they must undergo tests and walk through a decontamination chamber before setting foot in the house. Maddy lives with her mom/doctor and at home nurse Carla. She has a great relationship with Carla who has cared for her since she was an infant. Her relationship with her mother is close yet strained. They are each other’s best friends, there are no secrets between them. It probably helps to mention that they are all the other has now. (I won’t tell you why 😉 I’ll let you read the book and discover that for yourself.) However it’s easy to see that Maddy’s mother treats her as though she’s made of fine fragile crystal that could shatter at the slightest touch.
Maddy has accepted this lifestyle though. She does the same thing day-in and day-out with no complaint. Until of course Olly and his family move next door……
Want to know something impressive about this book? No. Insta-love. Finally! There is an actual development regarding the romance in this story.
When Madeline first see’s Olly there are no instant sparks or corny lines about him being “the one.” It’s more like extreme curiosity, on both ends. For Olly, who’s that pretty girl behind the glass? For Madeline, who’s that perfectly ordinary boy living a perfectly ordinary life? Her curiosity is driven by the desire for normalcy. To be a normal teenage girl who goes to school, makes normal friends and has real normal crushes. After they meet, which takes time, the two become a little obsessed with each other. That is Maddy constantly thinks about Olly. They spend hours talking to one another over IM’s and e-mails (Who remembers AIM? I feel old). Slowly but surely they get to know one another. Then, things get really good 😉 and I’ll end the recap right there.
Let’s hear it for diversity!
There’s no lack of that in this story. Madeline herself is half Japanese and half African American. Can you imagine what a beautiful mix that would make in a person? There’s so much raw culture in that! Her dark colored skin and big curly hair are the most dominant cultural features she has. Maddy’s mother is Japanese, beautiful. Her at home nurse Carla, is Hispanic which we’re often reminded of with her accent and Mexican customs. Let’s not forget Olly, whose pale skin contrasts highly with his all dark clothes that he constantly wears. There haven’t been too many books about diversity that I’ve read. In fact I’d say that I can count them on about three or four fingers. This was truly a treat for me to read because of this alone.
Maddy’s character is the one that I enjoyed the most. Although she acknowledges that she’s stuck in a mundane life, she has a kind of secret strength about her. That strength comes out every time she tells herself not to hope for things she can never have. I couldn’t help but have all the hope for her. That carries on until the very end of the book. The illustrations Maddy draws also help us as readers to really get inside her head. Plus they are very intricate. It’s impossible not to get more hooked.
Olly’s character was very different from your typical YA romance heart throb. He was strong yet naive. His home life is tragic. It breeds frustration. I kept yelling at him to do the right thing by his family. When it came to Maddy he was sweet and romantic. He always wanted to believe in the best possible outcome for her. Let’s not forget that he’s described as having a sculpted body. Probably thanks to his hobby of parkour.
YES. Yes yes and yes. Yoon’s beautiful writing was so smooth. The entire book flowed perfectly. There was a very very brief moment where it slowed down a tad but it in no way affected the over all feeling of the book. I highly recommend this to everyone. Especially if you’re looking for a good, easy contemporary. One that doesn’t focus entirely on the romance. Instead this was focused on the main character.
I give the book a whopping 5 out of 5 stars!!!! The first in a long time 🙂 it feels really good to read a book so deserving of this rating.
I’m so glad I read this book. It was incredibly rewarding. Absolutely lived up to its hype. I waited a long time to read this book and strongly feel that it was well worth it.
Knowing my reading community, I think I can confidently say that everyone is pretty excited to see this movie. If it’s any bit as good as the book has been, we’re all gonna cry and laugh and even swoon a little together.