“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”
This is another one of those super hyped books that I decided to read after giving in to much pressure,
and maybe being influenced by the movie trailer. And wow am I glad I read it! I know this book is a little contested, and you either love it or hate it, but I am firmly in the love it category.
“If my life were a book and you read it backward, nothing would change. Today is the same as yesterday. Tomorrow will be the same as today. In the book of Maddy, all the chapters are the same.
Madeline Whittier has a rare disease, SCID, which basically mean she has never left her house because she’s allergic to EVERYTHING. She lives her life within her safe house, and her only interaction is with her mother, her nurse, and video chats with tutors. She’s perfectly content with that until Olly moves in next door. Suddenly she’s intrigued. They start instant messaging each other, and Maddy can feel herself falling more and more in love. But she knows it’s impossible. And she know’s it’s going to end badly.
“as•ymp•tote (ˈasəm(p)ˌtōt) n. pl. -s. 1. A wish that continually approaches but never achieves fulfillment. [2015, Whittier]”
First, I have to point out that this book was written very similarly to my all time favorite, The Book Thief. Nicola Yoon included random definitions and thoughts in her narrative (for example, when Maddy creates her own definitions and her own spoiling book reviews). I love when authors do that, because it shows more insight into the character’s personality, and mixes it up a bit.
“You’re not living if you’re not regretting.”
When I went into this book, I wasn’t expecting it to be funny. Because it deals with an illness as one of the major plot points, I expected it to be sad, heartwarming, romantic, but not funny. And I was so pleasantly surprised. Maddy and Olly are both so funny, I actually laughed aloud while reading it. Especially their conversations together and Maddy’s internal thoughts. She sounds so much like a teenage girl that I can’t help but think that I could be thinking exactly what she is saying. At the same time, some things she is experiencing for the first time ever, and she has such a witty attitude about it. Also, points to Nicola Yoon by having a POC main character! And Maddy is a bookworm just like us!
“In my head I know I’ve been in love before, but it doesn’t feel like it. Being in love with you is better than the first time. It feels like the first time and the last time and the only time all at once.”
The romance between Olly and Maddy was so so so so sweet I think I burned up and internally combusted. Even though it’s totally attraction at first sight, their conversations together are so flirty, and they must have such great chemistry. I don’t know how Yoon does it, but I was genuinely swooning during their exchanges. And I love how he simultaneously challenges her while wishes for her well-being. It can’t be easy being in love with a girl confined to her home but Olly does it and without complaining even once.
“Boys come and go, but mothers are forever”
I also loved the familial relationships in this book. Maddy and her mother were super close, which was adorable. They made up their own games, had their own traditions, and she was more like a friend than a mom. Carla, her nurse, is actual mom goals and I loved her and Maddy’s relationship. Unlike her mom, Carla seems to understand the emotional toll the illness takes on Maddy and understands the need to feel alive and feel free. She sticks her neck out for Maddy and ultimately becomes the best friend Maddy could have and the woman she needed in her life.
“Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything.”
Lastly, I think the themes in this book are very important. There are themes about taking risks, the importance and gravity of love, what it means to be alive, what it means to grow up. This story is very much a coming of age story as well as a love story, and I think Yoon does both so well. There is controversy about the ending which I have just one small comment on. It did seem like the easy way out, but it also seemed like the hard way out, because it made things simultaneously easier for Maddy while taking away everything she’s ever known and destroying something within her. I‘m not quite sure how I feel about the ending yet, but I know it doesn’t detract from the overall love and enchantment I felt while reading this book.
“Spoiler alert: Love is worth everything. Everything.”
Overall, I fell in love reading this book. I was captivated, reading it in less than a day. I would sneak pages in between classes and on the bus ride home from school. I sobbed multiple times reading this book, and I just marvel at how amazing it is.