Book Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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.
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli
I was so excited to read Everything, Everything.  As soon as I read the summary for this book, I knew I had to read it.  Like Madeline, I have an immune deficiency.  Mine is called CVID: Common Variable Immune Deficiency (read about it here).  It is not as famous or as severe as SCID: Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (read about it here).  Children born with SCID have literally no protection against the outside world.  There is a combined absence of major components of the immune system, which leaves SCID patients susceptible to serious illnesses.

So it was with great interest that I dove into Everything, Everything.  I couldn't wait to see how Nicola Yoon characterized the everyday life of a teen with SCID.  I assumed, and I was correct in that assumption, that Madeline was not given a bone-marrow or stem cell transplant in infancy to treat her SCID, which is the standard of treatment.  Instead, Madeline's mother, who is a physician, has sequestered Madeline in their home.  Their house has an air-lock system at the front door, which from what I understood, sort of blows the germs off of people when they enter the house.  And Madeline is prohibited from going outside.  She is homeschooled and has a nurse to watch over her daily while her mother works.

My main issue with this book was this: if Madeline truly had SCID, the germs her mother and nurse carried naturally (even though they weren't actively ill with the common cold or other infection) would have made Madeline sick, air lock or not.  Madeline would have had to live in an actual bubble (like the Bubble Boy), not have her house serve as her 'bubble.'  So, I found some inconsistencies with how Madeline's life with SCID was portrayed in comparison to what I know about the disease.  I don't have SCID but I have learned a lot about it in my education about my own disease.  I've been to many Immune Deficiency Foundation conferences where I learned about the most common types of immune deficiencies, and I have a friend with SCID.  All of this to say, I believe I am fairly well-informed when it comes to immune deficiencies. 

For the majority of the book, Yoon's portrayal of SCID bothered me.  I had to put aside my feelings of 'that's not right!' to enjoy the story.  And I did enjoy it.  Everything, Everything isn't about SCID.  It's about a young girl, falling in love for the fist time, and her coming of age story.  Madeline was an inherently likable character and I really rooted for her happiness as I read her story.

What made this book so different, so intense, was the huge---HUGE---twist towards the end.  Suddenly, Yoon's take on life with SCID made sense.  I won't say more because I don't want to spoil the surprise.  But suffice to say I was thoroughly shocked at the turn the story took.  I never saw it coming and the plot twist made the story come together and make sense for me.

Besides the great characterization, there are lots of little extras in Everything, Everything.  I loved the way the book is set up with lists, texts, drawings, and diary entries between chapters.  These additions made the book fun and provided more insight into Madeline's personality.

Overall, I did really enjoy Everything, Everything.  It was a great read, and I would definitely read Nicola Yoon again. 


  1. Thanks for the review! I hadn't heard of it before but I'm really interested to check it out. I don't really know anything about SCID so I'm keen to see how my opinion of the book differs without having the background knowledge you do.

    1. Jess, I'm interested to see what you think of it too. It really was such a sweet story. :)

  2. “Everything, Everything” is a novel that any reader should enjoy. It is easy to read, engaging, and a book that one will read in one sitting. It is a novel that will cause parents and teens to consider what it means to love and what it means to let go.


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