Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: Everything, Everything

Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places, described it as "powerful, lovely, heart-wrenching, and so absorbing I devoured it in one sitting." Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon, was truly that! I, too, read it in one sitting. Even at over 300 pages, this love story flew by before I knew it. It served as a healthy reminder to me that even though my upcoming trip to Europe by myself is daunting, I would be far worse off if I didn't take the risk and stayed home instead. It encouraged me to suck the marrow out of life, while I have the chance.

Madeline Whittier has more limitations than your average teen. No, more than that, she has every limitation imaginable, because she suffers from a rare disease that makes her allergic to everything. She has grown comfortable in her little isolated world with her mother and her nurse and her library full of books. Life is good, despite her illness. Until ... Olly moves in next door. He may shake her world more than she ever imagined.

Their love affair begins with a witty email correspondence. I'm a big fan of epistolary novels, so I thoroughly enjoyed this inclusion. It progresses when Madeline convinces her nurse to allow Olly to go through the decontamination procedures for a brief visit. Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

So if I plowed through it so quickly and enjoyed it so much, what held me back from highly recommending it? First, I felt there could have been so much more depth to the novel. Second, call me a prude, but I really hoped the girl would hold back from experiencing everything, everything. I begin to wonder if authors are presenting cleaner manuscripts and being told by their publishers that in order for them to turn a profit, they must bow to the social norms of the day and include sex. So disappointing. Still, it was a fully-engaging book and worth the read, as an adult. I don't know that I would offer it up to my daughter, had I one, because it sends the message that teenagers should seize the day and experience absolutely everything. Why wait? Grab it while you have the chance. Just not the message I enjoy seeing young teenagers devour.

The movie came out in May to mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes only gave it two out of five stars. Common Sense Media does acknowledge that producers kept the love scene age-appropriate by fading out. I'm not sure yet whether I will take the time to view the movie, but based on the quality of the writing, I would read another book by Nicola Yoon.

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