Rating: 4/5 stars
“If you love Eleanor and Park, Hazel and Augustus, and Mia and Adam, you’ll love the story of Maddy, a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly, the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken. This innovative and heartfelt debut novel unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, 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.”
Madeline Whittier, Maddy, never leaves her house. NEVER. She has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency which means she is allergic to everything. She lives with her mother who is also a doctor. The only other person she has physical contact with is her nurse Carla, who is a surrogate friend and family member. Maddy’s father and brother died in an accident when she was 6 months old, so her mom and Carla are the only family she knows. She is home schooled and interacts with her teachers via Skype and the rare home visit.
Maddy’s life takes a turn (for the better or worse?) when a new family moves into the house next door. They have a teenage son, Olly, who Maddy is immediately attracted to when she sees him out her window. Olly notices Maddy in her window and they start communicating through their windows and eventually through emails.
This is where the story becomes interesting because Maddy is a teenager and starting to have feelings for Olly, but she isn’t allowed to act on these feelings because she is not allowed contact with other people and can’t leave her house. Mady’s whole world is turned upside down by these new feelings and the introduction of another person other than her mother and Carla into her world.
The way the story plays out after Olly enters Mady’s world is very interesting. At one point the action that Mady takes that involves using a credit card for a very expensive purchase I found to be over-the-top. At about 1/2 – 3/4 of the way through the book I figured out how it was going to end. For me, the way it ended was the only way it could, or else Mady’s life would have been nothing but depressing and frustrating.
I really enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s style of writing. I was able to finish the book in two days. She has a very engaging and beautiful writing style. I loved the characters of Mady and Olly. They were presented as real and funny and angst-ridden teens with real problems and emotions. I would highly recommend this book.