(WARNING: spoilers ahead)
Everything, Everything jumped to the top of my reading list as soon as I heard of it, and I went into it with high expectations. It was a fast read with excellent, effortless prose. The presentation of the book was unique and interesting; it included snapshots of emails, journals, and messages, along with a few other simple and satisfying illustrations. They offered a nice break from traditional storytelling and that was quite enjoyable.
The story follows Maddy Whittier, an 18-year-old with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). The condition restricts her from ever going outside, but she’s farily content with her life. That is, until an attractive young man named Olly moves in next door and she falls for him almost instantly. They become fast friends online, and with the help of Maddy’s nurse, meet in person. They quickly fall in love, and when one thing leads to another, Maddy decides to run away with him to spend two days in Hawaii, risking her life for romance and adventure. It’s the life Maddy has always dreamed of…until she falls ill and has to be rushed to the hospital.
Maddy returns home, recovers slowly, and drops all contact with Olly, who eventually moves away. But when a doctor contacts Maddy with the suspicion that she doesn’t really have SCID, things take a new turn. Maddy had a dad and brother who died when she was an infant, and Maddy was a sickly baby. She learns that her mom was driven insane from her loss and the fear of losing Maddy, too. She diagnosed her with SCID with no proof. However, Maddy was never actually sick. Maddy struggles to accept this and leaves to find Olly. The book ends as they’re reunited.
I enjoyed reading Everything, Everything, but several things in it bothered me. For one, Maddy’s entire character was built on her sickness so much that, once she learned that she wasn’t sick, she pretty much had nothing left to define her. Also, I had my suspicions that she wasn’t sick pretty early on, and I felt that the sickness being fake somewhat invalidated the story.
The fact that Maddy’s mom was insane made little sense. She was a practicing doctor and had led a normal life since the death of her husband and son, so I’m not sure why evidence of her mental instability never surfaced before.
Finally, I felt the story ended a little too quickly. I never learned what happened within Olly’s own storyline, and by the end of the story, Maddy still had major issues that she hadn’t dealt with – for example, how she would forgive her mom, or adjust to her new life.
To summarize, Everything, Everything didn’t blow me out of the water, and it left me with a lot of unanswered questions. The entire concept was out-there to begin with, and the plot twist of Maddy not having SCID made it too unrealistic. It was a bit cliché, but nonetheless, an engaging, simple, and well-written story.