Published on: October 12th 2015
Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Romance
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(summary from Goodreads)
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
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.
“Sometimes I reread my favourite books from back to front. I start with the last chapter and read backward until I get to the beginning. When you read this way the characters go from hope to despair, from self knowledge to doubt. In love stories, couples start out as lovers and end as strangers. Coming of age books become stories of losing your way. Your favourite characters come back to life.”
This book stood out as one of my favourite books of the year, and it’s only May! Not to brag, but I feel so lucky to have been given the chance to read this as an ARC as I don’t think I could have waited until September to get my hands on it! Everything about this book was perfect, so stick with me as I tell you just how much I loved it and why …
I loved Madeline (Maddy), right from the very very beginning. I think it had something to do with the opening lines of this book…
“I’ve read many more books than you. It doesn’t matter how many you’ve read. I’ve read more. Believe me.”
…From this point I knew we were going to be friends and I would stick with her through anything!
She has such a unique personality. You often find that children with terminal/very serious illness’ grow up very quickly, and there were times when reading this that I would forget that she was only eighteen. I really liked that the entire book was from her POV. I’m a big fan of dual point of views normally, but this book was Maddy’s story and it deserved to be told just by her..
“Flowers for Algernon again?” she asks. “Doesn’t that book always make you cry?”
“One day it won’t,” I say. “I want to be sure to be reading it on that day.”
Maddy’s strength throughout this book blew me away. She is wise beyond her years and has managed to find a way to deal with the life that has been given to her. She doesn’t moan (much) and her ‘Zen Master Skills’, as Olly puts it, keep her on track. She is very focused on the things that she can do and doesn’t let herself dwell on the things she can’t and above all she doesn’t allow herself to dream unrealistic dreams… until Olly arrives.
I really really liked Olly, he really was the perfect character for Maddy. Sure, he may not be stuck in a bubble like her, but he is stuck in a life he wants to but cannot escape. He was sweet and caring, but at the same time he was a young person living life, exactly what Maddy wanted deep down, and so with him came so many possibilities.
“One thing I’m certain of: Wanting just leads to more wanting. There is no end to desire.”
It was so hard to read these parts of the book when Maddy struggled with her want for Olly. I wanted her to have it so bad, she deserved to have a normal girl boy experience and I hurt for her so much.
She managed to keep herself together for so many years by convincing herself that she doesn’t want what she cannot have, but then Olly’s friendship brings up all those wants in her and it totally scares her, because she shouldn’t be allowed him and she doesn’t want to allow herself to dream about what she knows she should have. But being around him makes Maddy think about what her life could have been like if she weren’t sick and it is both beautiful to see her dreams unfold but also heartbreaking as each time she has to remind herself that it’s not a possibility. Seriously, I have a massive amount of respect for real life people with this disease, because living like this must be torture.
“It’s the wanting that pulls me back down to earth heard. The wanting scares me. It’s like a weed that spreads slowly, just beneath your notice. Before you know it, it’s pitted your surfaces and darkened your windows.”
Reading from Maddy’s POV reminded me of all the small important things in our lives. Simple things like a touch, holding hands with someone, putting a comforting arm around somebody’s shoulder. A lot of the time we only think about the bigger parts of human contact, especially with those that we love, it’s all about the kissing and the sex, but when was the last time you just sat and held hands with someone you loved? I thought about this whilst reading and I couldn’t remember, it’s a little bit sad in a way. We aren’t appreciating the things that we have, and because of that we are missing out. Maddy showed me that.
“Every nerve in my body migrates to where he touches. The skin under his hands sparks to life, every cell alight with feeling. I feel as if I’ve never been touched before.”
The execution of this story was just flawless. The integration of of pictures and the IM conversations sent between Olly and Maddy made this book something special. Once I picked up the book it was impossible for me to put it down and the pages just flowed perfectly. I will admit I did spend a lot of the book feeling quite wary, and how can you not with a book with this kind of story? I felt that I was holding my breath just waiting for the terrible to happen and so I loved the unique turn the story took that I was not expecting at all.
This book totally blew me away and I am so in awe of Nicola Yoon’s amazing talent to write something so incredible. It was a story about living life to it’s fullest, whether it be in a bubble for 50 years or in the outside world for 50 seconds. It’s about living and loving and dreaming. And about appreciating the little things and those things that we have that many others will never have.
I went into this book expecting a unique storyline and a young romance. I came out of it having been taught about the importance of life and living it to its fullest by a girl who lived in a bubble.
“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”
This book was incredible. Such a unique story line and an amazing debut from Nicola Yoon. I can’t wait to get a hold of a physical copy so it can look all pretty on my bookself! Excited to see what comes next from Yoon!
I would recommend this book to fans of: characters with unique illnesses, forbidden romances, books with BIG twists, YA contemporary