When the Girl Next Door Can’t Leave the House: Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything

BookendsCindy: It’s always exciting when new neighbors move in and an attractive son is part of the family, but when you are the girl next door who isn’t allowed to EVER leave the house, starting a relationship is a bit trickier. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (2015) is going to fly out the door in the hands of teen readers who like romances, sad stories, and “disease” books. They’ll be turning the pages so fast that they may miss the hints about the plot twist awaiting them. Older cynics among us will probably catch on.

Everything EverythingIn fact, I’m old enough to remember watching John Travolta in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, a made-for-TV movie about a teen with an insufficient immune system who must not breathe unfiltered air. Everything, Everything features Maddy, a teen girl who lives sequestered in her air-filtered house due to her condition, SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency). She hasn’t left the house for 17 years and has contact only with her physician mother and a hired nurse—and a very rare visit from a teacher, who must go through an arduous decontamination process. Maddy experiences life through reading, and her favorite book is Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. When Olly moves in next door, Maddy’s acceptance of her condition weakens. She communicates from the window, but charades and texting are not enough. She wants a real visit. Will she get one? Well, the tag line on the cover of the ARC is: “The greatest risk is not taking one.”

They’ll be turning the pages so fast that they may
miss the hints about the plot twist awaiting them.
Older cynics among us will probably catch on.

The book’s design elements will make it even more popular with some teens. Interior illustrations by David Yoon, medical charts, post-it-notes, text messages, and some one-paragraph pages will give reluctant readers additional momentum in their reading. Maddy’s book reviews called, “Life is Short™ Spoiler Reviews by Madeline,” are fun, too. Here’s a sample:

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

Spoiler alert: Boys are savages

If you need a book for a mother-and-teen-daughter book group, this would be great. I can’t wait to hear my teen book club discuss it as I release it into the wild!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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