Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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.
Madeline: I’m not a princess.
Madeline: And I don’t need saving.
Olly: that’s ok. i’m no prince
Imagine being trapped in your own home. Prisoner to your own sickly body, your own failed immune system. Imagine living everyday inside, watching the world go by from your bedroom window. Imagine living half a life, not knowing what lies past your front yard. Imagine not being able to touch the boy you love, save developing an illness from the basic germs he carries.
This is the life of Madeline. And I absolutely adore her name (…as well as her story, obviously.)
In this stunning début by Nicola Yoon, we follow Madeline – an 18-year-old girl with a rare condition known as SCID – as she comes to the realisation that life is not always as it seems. She questions what she’s always known, and takes the biggest risks of her life to be with the boy she loves, Olly.
Personally, I believe the character development in this book is the best I’ve seen in a long time. Madeline starts the book as a naive, young girl who doesn’t even contemplate breaking out of her shell and into the outside world, but ends the book doing just that. She is creative, imaginative, and shockingly relatable despite her obscure situation. Most importantly, though, she is a pleasant voice to follow a story with. We begin to empathise with her when things are bad, and feel joy for her when they’re good.Yoon’s small interjections of small character quirks would ordinarily go unnoticed, but Maddy and Olly are both so aware of each other that they notice all these little things, and that’s when you truly know the two are meant to be. And that’s what makes the book so much more heart-wrenching, yet still so beautiful.
Furthermore, the quick changes in emotion give the book a fast pace. The small hints of the ending are so much more obvious in retrospect, that I’m ashamed I didn’t pick up on them earlier! Yoon has consciously crafted this book to perfection, and I especially enjoed the incorporation of Maddy’s plans, the few illustrations, and Maddy’s Dictionary. Actually, Maddy’s Dictionary was probably my favourite bit, because not only did it portray the girl’s emotions, but it did so in a discreet way, just as emotions are in real life.
When I first read the synopsis for this book, I felt as though it was going to be such an obvious storyline. And yes, at times, it was. But that didn’t stop it surprising me. And that really allowed the controversial ending to creep up on me. What’s evident is that Yoon can really write a story, and really get deep into your heart to tell it to you.
Also, I felt as though I wouldn’t really enjoy it, assuming it would receive about 2 stars for it’s typicality. However, I loved this book. I spent my free time consuming this book word for word, and my time doing other things craving its presence. This book is a beautiful story, that I struggled to put down, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves to read YA novels.
(Disclaimer: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to send a big thank you to NetGalley for this book, and also to everyone at Random House Kids, as well as Nicola Yoon herself.)