Friday, September 8, 2017

Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything
Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publication Date: 9/1/2015
Pages: 307
Genre: Romance / Young Adult / Fiction 
How I Found It: I read it for the informal book club I have with my best friends.
Date Completed: 8/11/17

Summary: Madeline has a rare disease which prevents her from leaving the house. Anything or anyone outside could compromise her immune system and compromise her. When a cute boy moves in next door, however, her desire to leave the house becomes unbearable. 

What I Thought: The first I ever heard about this book was when I saw the trailer for the movie. It did not jump out at me as anything different from the litany of young adult romance stories on the market right now. I didn't have any intention of reading or watching it. But, one of my best friends teaches middle school reading and she wanted to read it this summer before deciding whether to teach it or not. So, being the informal book club we are, all three of us read it. 

Let me say, first, that I liked the format of this. I have a weirdly soft spot for novels that use some untraditional methods to tell their stories. This one includes emails, medical charts, drawings, etc. There's not a lot of them, but they are scattered throughout the pages and add a different flair. I always love this in books. It's not always executed well, but when it is, I find it so fun. Maybe there's a youthful part of me that misses reading picture books or something.

That was my favorite thing about the book. From there...well, I felt unsurprised and unimpressed.

The book is fine for what it is. I definitely understand why it has amassed a following and got made into a motion picture. Dramatic teen romance is forever appealing. Just after I finished reading this (in two days), I heard a podcast interview talking about YA lit. One person mentioned how everything feels over the top in YA lit because, as a teenager, everything feels over the top. I remember those feelings. I definitely related to stuff like this as a teen. As a woman in her 30s, though, I struggle with it a lot more. 

Here, specifically, rationality is just tossed out the window by Madeline. I get it. She wants to leave the house and have a normal life. However, she does not handle her desires with any sort of logic. She throws caution to the wind and watches it fly thousands of miles away...literally. 

Maybe it's that my job is to teach Critical Thinking to (mostly) adolescent students. The hardest days at work for me are when young adults are acting like Madeline does: impulsively and without regard for the emotions and experiences of others. Madeline demonstrates about zero critical thinking. I get it. She's a teen in "love." She's hormonal. She's revolting against her isolation with everything she has. But, come on, girl. Just think about your actions and their effects for like two seconds.

I did really love that Yoon chose to have several multiracial relationships in the book. That's great. She doesn't deal much with the idea of race directly, but her cast of characters is pretty diverse and there seems to be no hesitation about romance between races. That's important and needed.

In the brief conversation about this book I've had with my teacher friend, she noted that she won't be teaching this book to her middle schoolers. Madeline and Olly's escape comes with one brief scene of adult content that, though the characters are of age, seems inappropriate for middle school readers. She felt it was an unnecessary addition and I agree. That whole episode felt like it belonged in a different book in some ways. Yoon is clearly crafting her words and story for a teenage audience, but suddenly her characters are on a transpacific flight and staying in a hotel together despite having spent very little time together. I understand that sex should be discussed and dealt with even for teenage audiences; I'm not disputing that. Here, though, it felt out of place and rushed. That decision was, once again, a moment where I just shook my head at Madeline's lack of critical thought or concern for consequences. 

So....I had some major issues with this book. Still, I read it in less than 24 hours and I found the writing style fun and enjoyable. It was a light, summer read and I liked reading it. But, there were too many ingrained issues for me to recommend it for anything other than pure entertainment. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Nope
If You Liked This, Try: Fangirl / The Fault in Our Stars / Speak

A Reduced Review: While this popular YA novel has some fun elements, I think the protagonist really ought to take my Critical Thinking course. 

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