"Everything, Everything", by Nicola Yoon: 5 reasons to read it!
19 juillet 2020
This novel was adapted into a film, in 2017, under the same name "Everything, Everything". However, it is always better to read than to see, as the film adaptation may neglect certain aspects that the book brings out better, and especially because it is you who create your own characters in your imagination.
A story full of passion
Madeline has just turned 18, but has never set foot outside her home: she has SCID (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency Syndrome). But she knows what the outside world looks like, and how "normal" people play with their friends, go to school, fall in love, go to university, go to work. She knows all of these from the books she reads and that fill the shelves in her room. She has gotten used to the idea, lives her life rather well and shares a very close bond with her mother, Pauline, and with her lifelong nurse, Carla, a complicity. These relationships begin to fall apart when new neighbours move in, bringing with them noise in their daily lives.
The couple's son, Oliver called Olly, and Maddy (Oliver's nickname for Madeline) will get closer through e-mail exchanges. Later, under the supervision of Carla who had understood that preventing her from seeing him would be very risky, Maddy will finally have a physical contact with the young man, contact that will grow stronger as time goes by. But what is feared happens: the mother eventually finds out what is going on and sends Carla away. Suffocated by the new restrictions, Madeline decides to run away with Olly to Hawaii. These two days seem to go perfectly, but on the last day, Maddy has a crisis that almost takes her life. She returns home with her mother and decides to get away from Olly. However, something breaks her resolutions: the doctor who treated her during her crisis says that ...
What if you read the entire book ?!
A unique writing style
Nicola Yoon's pen in this work is unusual in that we receive the events in their raw state. It's a kind of diary: we say things as they come to us and that's all. So there are very, very short chapters, just as there are not very short chapters: long ones, indeed. The story is very dynamic and there's nothing boring about it, especially since Nicola Yoon uses the e-mail exchange system to create dialogues between the characters, or drawings to express the characters' feelings. This gives a little bit of humor to the story. At first glance, you'd think it was a sad novel because Madeline is sick, but it's not. It's a heartbreaking, charming novel. It's full of twists and turns and suspense. We don't know how the story between Olly and Madeline is going to end. You can tell it's bound to end well, but you wonder how it's going to end. Madeline, on one hand, is experiencing two realities: her illness, her confinement to her home, and her discovery of the outside world and Olly, and the love she feels for him. As for Olly, he's struggling with his own father, who's increasingly brutal on his mother. The arrival of Madeline in his life gives him a breath of fresh air, even though he can't help but be afraid for her. We more easily identify ourselves with him, especially since we are not in the same condition as Maddy.
A cover that speaks
Nicola Yoon chose a special cover, made by her husband David Yoon.
On a white background, almost at the bottom of the cover, a mess, a jumble of things that are all as polluting as they are pathogenic for an individual with SCID. There are all kinds of flowers, bird feathers, the sun, the wind, the sand, the sea, keys, airplanes, buildings, birds and masks. It's a collection of things, and their condensation causes them to recede before they can be analyzed further. The title in itself, "Everything, Everything" is a real sigh of the main character. EVERYTHING, absolutely everything is dangerous to her. Even the wind that we all breathe can kill her, because of the tiny germs that she is carrying. The white of the page refers to the immaculate whiteness of her room, brightened only by the books that bring colors other than the ultimately dull white in which she grew up. In addition, the quote inserted at the foot of the page:
The greatest risk is not taking one
Which is a real subject for reflection on which one should ask oneself. It's all about risk. Without risks, you don't get anywhere, you don't learn anything: you don't live.
The couple Nicola and David Yoon brighten up the live scenario with the codes of romance but in a very original way. The reading is enlivened by graphics, shopping lists, email conversations rendered as if they appeared on our computer, sheets where Madeline spies on her neighbors' actions, drawings to illustrate her feelings, web pages she consults. These illustrations, as well as her dictionary notes and spoilers are strategically placed in the right place and at the right time to allow us to experience and follow the story in real time. These illustrations are funny, and add humour to an environment that is doomed to melancholy.
The work particulary (or only) deals with two themes: the question of the influence of disease on our lives, and the adventures that our heart muscle causes us in the presence of loved ones.
It's a rare disease, but it does exist, and it causes its patients to live in seclusion all over the world. We won't go into medical details, but let's understand that sick people are not always as well as they look. Their health is at stake, but they feel suffocated by all the protocols that surround them. Madeline remained very strong, she overcame the depression that almost hit her and understood that there was no point in rebelling against this situation, and that accepting it instead makes it more liveable, more bearable. Well... at first.
When we talk about love, we see the world at one's feet, because we feel wings growing, we believe we are masters of the world. Love is a devouring, passionate fire that embraces our hearts. Thanks to Madeline, we went back in time, to our first kiss, the first time we felt something as strong as she did. In spite of everything, it is necessary to know how to set limits when in return for this love you receive only violence, physical or verbal, or even moral. That's what we get from Olly's mother's story. Staying after the first slap allowed the other blows to come. Here is the result: a broken family, a chronic smoker girl, a boy who develops hatred for his father.
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