Olivia Handscom ‘18/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Madeline is allergic to the outside world. She was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, or SCID, when she was a baby. She has lived eighteen years in her sterile, secure house, and up until now she has been content with her life the way it is. Then Olly moves in across the street, and after they catch each other’s eyes through the window they start up a friendship by emailing back and forth. Now Maddie finds herself wanting things she didn’t want before, like traveling the world, or even just go to a regular high school with other kids. And she wants to do these things with Olly.
Published through Delacorte Press, Nicola Yoon’s debut contemporary novel about a young girl with a rare disease and a young boy who helps her discover there is a whole world out there worth living.
Yoon created a unique cast of characters that pull in the audience and make them care. The reader really gets a feel for Maddie’s voice, which Yoon helps develop by inserting other media. The small pictures and graphs, as well as Maddie’s personal dictionary really helped the story come to life.
Unfortunately the plot did feel as if it were lacking some originality. While it is a great thing that so many books are choosing to feature main characters with disabilities, these types of novels are starting to feel repetitive. Maddie’s thoughts and feelings felt a little stale and predictable at some parts.
This novel touches upon some very serious topics, such as illness and abuse, while also trying to capture all the sweetness of first love. The tone balanced between lighthearted and cute to sometimes dark and devastating; and that range sometimes felt a bit awkward.
The ending of this novel was a little bizarre. Between the climax and resolution the plot twist feels a little forced and unnatural. The turn Yoon chose to take was a bold move for this type of contemporary story, and it is most definitely not given the amount of attention it deserves.
However, this story if full of a lot of cuteness and funny parts. While readers may find the serious parts of this novel lacking, they may also find themselves rooting for Maddie and Olly to end up together, and for Maddie to learn the difference living and being alive.