« 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 official back cover of the book]
Today I’m going to speak about Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, a not famous author but promising and talented. The novel is American and published in 2015. We are in a sterile universe of Madeline Whitter, a teenager with a rare disease that affects her immune system and forces her to live at home, locked up, without contact with the outside world.
Madeline Whittier is a teenager with SCID (Severe Combined Immune Deficit), a rare disease that, with the slightest bacteria, can kill her and his father and brother are died when she has 4 months. Maddy (her nickname) is therefore confined to her room disinfected since her youngest age : she has never been able to feel the slightest ray of sunshine caressing her skin. She adapts, she has friends on the internet, she reads a lot of books and creates articles, she takes lessons online. She lives normally because she only knows that. I felt this confinement and the weariness of the repeated tasks : Maddy always plays the same games, often watches the same films, it’s a sort of comfort because it is the only thing she knows and she can share with someone (her mother or nurse), but it’s also depressing because the heroine feels prisoner, useless, with no future. But one day, the outside intrigues her and offersher unknown desires so far. The outside has a name : Oliver (Olly). He is his age and has just moved in front her house. He’s a good character, and he also has family problems. We learn in the same time of Maddy that his sister, his mother and him are beaten by their father. The conversations between Olly and Maddy are simple but invigorating. Maddy tries to resist to Olly, but how can she refrain from observing her only source of comfort and joy ? She knows very well that no matter the nature of this possible relationship, she is doomed to failure : who would like a friend whom one can not frequent or a girlfriend that you can not even touch ? And yet, it is well known that Olly may well be the only person on earth to take an interest in Maddy. She can’t talk about her existential problems with her mother without adding more guilt, so Olly is the first person with whom she can open up. And for Olly, Maddy represents something healthy and cheerful, the opposite of what he finds in his home when he’s returning from classes.
I had already heard of the SCID but it is a little known and a little neglected by the media or literature. Nicola Yoon touched a sensitive point with this disease, because if we complain about our small everyday problems, we realize how we are ridiculous. This story is just beautiful. I encountered a multitude of emotions over the pages. Compassion, frustration, joy, anger, sadness, hope,… I wanted to fight for Madeline as she did herself. It is the desire to live one’s life, to take risks, to exceed the limits. A life without having lived is a waste of time. And in front, we have fear, anxiety. Everything, Everything reads very quickly and has its small peculiarities. Nicola Yoon brings us even closer to her character, she has personalized certain thoughts, we find them in the form of drawings, explanatory diagrams, diaries, notes with humor and freshness. I had started this book with no hope for the heroine, the SCID being incurable. I was expecting the relationship between Maddy and Olly to stop, it was clear to me that even though Olly was in love with Maddy he could not stay with her, because a relationship without touching one another, kissing oneself, without dating really, seems to me impossible. As much to say that I had not seen this end coming, until this famous mail from the doctor of Hawaii. Frankly, the idea that her mother had not recovered from the trauma of the loss of her husband and her son had not even occurred to me. For me she suffered (normal) but I thought that the shock had passed. So, I understood the reaction of Maddy who saw her life pass under the nose, but I had compassion for her mother who never recovered from this accident.
It was a great discovery. This novel is cute, poetic, and filled with love. It is the kind of light romance that must be read from time to time and that does good to morale.
« The greatest risk is not taking one ».