Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Maddy has SCID, a disease where she is allergic to everything. She can't leave her house because anything may set off her allergies and it could be fatal. She has few visitors, and the ones who do stop by have to go through a rigorous decontamination process before they can enter the house. Besides her nurse Carla who has been around for most of Maddie's life, the only person Maddie sees is her mother - who also happens to be a doctor who can take care of all her needs. Then a new family move in next door and Maddie finds herself drawn to the boy, Olly, and soon they start speaking using signs in the window and instant messenger. Maddie has only ever known her strict routine and the same two people - what will happen when she finds herself falling for a boy she cannot be with?
This book was incredible. Firstly, the most important aspect to mention is the format of the chapters. Each chapter is incredibly short - some only a sentence or two - which makes every single word in this book matter. With the chapters being so short, I whizzed through this book in a couple of hours and it felt more fast-paced than the story allowed. I felt as though the short, quick chapters were a contrast to the life Maddie was living - long, drawn-out and repetitive - and that the short chapters almost represent how quickly her life is changing since she met this new boy, and how quickly her feelings for him grew. Along with the short chapters, we were also presented with pictures, snippets of emails, etc which all added character and worked perfectly with the short chapters.
Secondly, the actual writing style was incredible. It wasn't complex or overly descriptive, but it contained the perfect amount of wonder. Maddie was seeing and experiencing so many things for the first time and that was communicated really well through the writing. I will definitely be reading more of Nicola Yoon's work in the future.
Thirdly, the characters were wonderful. Maddy was so wise and of course, she loved books and I LOVED that about her. Having SCID would, I'd imagine, make a person quite depressed and Maddy wasn't like that at all. She was so wise beyond her years and wanted to live a life that mattered. Olly was a delight to read about and his backstory just makes him that much more lovable. The romance that grows between Maddy and Olly is admittedly, insta-love, but for a girl who has never experienced anything before and has only read about love in her books, it didn't feel unrealistic. Carla the nurse was so caring and her love for Maddy radiated off the page - she was a great addition to the story. And finally Maddy's mother - the relationship between the two was heart-warming and their movie/game nights after dinner just made me feel so happy for them. Other than the time they spend together doing the above activities, we don't learn much about the mothers character, until towards the end, but upon reflection I feel as though that may have been purposeful to lead up to the ending.
I really enjoyed this book and was thinking about it for hours after reading. Before picking it up, I'd heard this book described as heart-wrenching, but it is so much more than that. It's profound and uplifting in a way that I just wasn't expecting and whilst it made my heart hurt a LOT, it was an excellent story that was executed perfectly.