Everything, Everything by Nicole Yoon

Everything, Everything feels like a story we have heard before. It can be compared to movies such as The Boy in the Bubble and Bubble Boy. And yet, it has its own uniqueness and heartwarming attributes. We are taken on a journey of life and imagination with our main character, Madeline, and we fall in love with her new neighbor, Olly. We experience joy and loneliness and bear witness to the age old theme, “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, but I feel like the ending was lacking something. I loved Madeline’s character and how she used her imagination to entertain herself in her boring, day to day life. I admire how the author wrote the chapters and sections in a way that made us experience Madeline’s different emotions and daily activities. I know we have the afore mentioned movies to compare this story to, but I also feel like there is a comparison between this story and the famous poem “The Lady of Shalott,” by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

For those who are not familiar with this beautiful poem, “The Lady of Shalott,” is about a beautiful maiden who is locked away in a tower, forced to weave a magic web day in and day out. She is trapped here by a curse that does not allow her to leave or look upon the beautiful outside world of Camelot. Her only glimpse to the outside world is through her mirror. She keeps to her daily chore and follows the rules of the curse because she is afraid of what might happen to, though she becomes bored and longs to go outside. One day she sees a beautiful prince in her mirror and decides she no longer cares about the curse and feels that she must leave and find him at once. Upon making the decision her mirror cracks, and she realizes the curse will be upon her for leaving and looking upon Camelot, but she no longer cares. She ventures out of her tower to find the prince and dies before she makes it to him.

I draw comparisons here because I view Madeline’s disease, SCID, as her curse. For most of her life this is all she knew and she was okay with spending her life inside, not being able to view the outside world. When she sees Olly and begins to fall in love with him, her inside life is no longer enough, and knowing she could die if she walks outside, she does it anyway to be with him and to go on an adventure. Though she does not die, and we happen upon an unexpected (slightly unexpected, though I had an idea from the beginning) twist, a part of her old life does die as a result of this journey to the outside world. Hence the comparison of the poem.

Along with the story of Madeline, we also learn a heartbreaking story of Olly. When Madeline first sees this family move in next door she becomes curious, and wonders what it would be like to have a real family and be able to live outside. But during her story, we learn that Olly’s family isn’t what it seems, going along with the previously mentioned motif. I felt sadness and sympathy for Olly, and felt that he needed Madeline as much as she needed him.

Overall, the book was adorable, heartwarming, and definitely a worthwhile read. I enjoyed the twist in the story and loved the relationship built between Madeline and Olly. I only wish the ending wasn’t so cliché and expected.

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