Book Review #26 – Everything Everything

Every day you get up and learn something new. Every day you find something to be happy about. Every single day you have a smile for me – Nicola Yoon.

Before I start with the review, I want to begin this post by setting the scene. It’s not a grand scene in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the one day a week where I have the entire day to myself; and today I took myself away from St Pats Hotel and sat just ten minutes down the road, in the small park. I sat at a picnic table, with the birds constantly singing, breathing in air that wasn’t constantly filled with the normal pub fumes. I didn’t go on the Internet, 4G, Wifi or otherwise. I sat and let this book take over.

There is so much I want to say about this book and I’m worried I won’t do it justice in this corner of mine. I want to buy it in physical book form and devour it cover to cover, again and again.

Madeline is a girl like no other; she has not set foot outside of her home all her life. She is allergic to the world and everything in it. Her life is consumed by health tests, homework, school lessons via Skype, health tests, and books. She likes her life; it’s all she’s ever known, until there is a new boy next door. Olly is not her saviour, she does it on her own, but he makes her question everything about life and love. He makes her feel emotions she has never felt before, all at once. He is her trigger that sets her life on a different path.

Everything Everything is so much more than a girl with an illness. It is about pushing boundaries, taking chances, having regrets, never regretting, and most of all it is about the four letter word we use every single day: LOVE. Or rather, it is about what we risk for love, because we risk everything.

I see parts of myself in Maddy, or parts of Maddy in me – who was always Madeline until Olly christened her Maddy (which I could go into full English lit grad analytical mode but I won’t) – the girl who loves to read, the girl who lives many lives through the stories she reads, and also the girl who feels alive near the ocean. Not to mention the girl who risks her own life for something she wants and wishes for so much – I wish I was that brave.

On the surface, you would think that it is Olly who has ignited this fire within Maddy. The truth is she had it all along. That is evident from her passion for books, her humour, and her zeal for wanting to know everything the world has to offer despite knowing she may never breathe its air, or touch its breeze. She is braver than she knows; Olly just lures her out of her shell a little bit.

Maddy and Olly’s love may be young but it is big, as first loves should be. She feels every single detail. She acknowledges it, and then she fears it, before she is falling deep into it. Too deep. It makes her reckless, but she needs that recklessness and freedom to find out who she truly is.

There are other parts to the story too of course: parts that piece together and make Maddy’s life what it is; parts which make Olly who he is as a person alongside Carla (Maddy’s nurse) and Pauline (Maddy’s mum). These two are present throughout the novel with their own issues and their own views on Maddy’s life choices. They make Maddy want to be the decision maker in her life much more as she has had that liberty taken away from her her whole life. Everything links up to make life as it is in that moment. Maddy even reflects on this in one of the final chapters.

Life is what we make it. Things may happen to us but it is how we react and how we face them that is what matters most. Everything Everything reminded me of that in more ways than one, so thank you Nicola Yoon for not only writing a massive turn pager, but reminding me of what’s important.

Beautiful, inspiring, heart warming and heart breaking all at the same time.

Love, Faye x

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