Review Blog

Jul 19 2017

Everything, everything by Nicola Yoon

cover image

Ill. by David Yoon. Random House Children's Books, 2017. ISBN 9780552576482
(Age: 13+) Themes of romance, family relationships, illness. This is Nicola Yoon's debut novel; a touching romance between two young people wanting to experience love but it could be the death of one of them.
Bubble girl, Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. She has not left the house since her father and brother died in an accident when Maddy was a child and now, at 17 years old, she yearns for a relationship that is different to those she has with her mother, her nurse and her tutor. This desire is a closeness that may only be achieved with Olly, the boy moving in next door, the boy with eyes the colour of the Atlantic Ocean.
Madeline's story unfolds with drawings, diary entries, lists, charts, and personal narratives. The illustrations, which were drawn by Nicola Yoon's husband, David, added an unusual and personal touch to the telling of Madeline's story. I particularly enjoyed Madeline's Spiral on page 233; it is an illustrative elegy to Madeline's dreams. And on pages 237-8 we come to a halt along with Maddy's heart with black pages and few words. This type of visual emphasis on emotion turns a book into a more physical reading experience which students will enjoy examining.
I did find that the story had two drawbacks. Although the characters and relationships were being developed expertly before my eyes, the most important character to the plot, Madeline's mother, was sadly a missing substance. I know that Madeline was loved by her mother but the way Nicola Yoon continuously described the same mother daughter activities and Madeleine's love and desire to save her mother any more pain was tedious to read about. The second drawback was Maddy's calm resignation to her life. If a teen was actually in this predicament would there be more teen angst, more tension, than portrayed by the fictional character of Madeline? This could be a position for debate amongst students.
For a debut novel it is very exciting that Everything, Everything is being turned into a movie and I hope it can do Nicola Yoon's work justice.
Sharon Smith

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