Review: “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Synopsis: 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

Review: I had originally rated this with five stars when I read this a year ago. Although the ending had left a bad taste in my mouth, I enjoyed the story, and the book had brought me out of a reading slump that had lasted around three years (because high school got me into many other interests). When I read this a year ago, I wasn’t into writing reviews, but I’ve seen a post circulating on Tumblr about this book, and I felt the need to come back to this. **Spoilers below**

I remember my friend asking me about the book only a couple weeks after I finished it, and I encouraged her to read it, because I had enjoyed the story so much, and Nicola Yoon is truly a great writer. However, I felt a pang of guilt afterward because the ending is horrible. But, as an able-bodied person, I should be able to brush it off, right?

The ending isn’t horrible because it’s poorly written. It’s horrible because it’s toxic, invalidating, and borderline lazy. There is a massive problem with advertising this story as spotlighting a character with a chronic illness that gives her a limited view of the world, and then writing about a character who was never ill in the first place for the sake of a happy ending.

I understand that we all want that perfect fairy tale ending where everything isn’t necessarily how we wanted or expected, but everything feels perfect nonetheless. The problem is that this isn’t the norm for chronically ill people in real life. They aren’t going to find out that their mother was suffering from a mental illness and suddenly be able to leave the house for the first time in forever. They aren’t all going to magically recover. We need stories that tell of how it actually is for people who actually suffer from an actual chronic illness, not stories about “ill characters” that turn out not to be ill and get that perfect “normal teenager” ending.

Final thoughts: Don’t support books that magically “fix” their main character. Honestly, if you were interested in this book, just skip Everything, Everything and read Yoon’s other book The Sun Is Also a Star, which I’ve heard is a lot better regarding representation.

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