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.
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Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: enthralling read; wise, poetic prose; a close examination of first loves, chronic illness (sort of?), familial relationships and codependence; easily relatable moral; unique characters; realistic and hard-hitting
Gaaaaah. This book broke me. I’m going to attempt to put the shattered fragments of my thoughts into some sort of coherency, but… Just bare with me if I get a little crazy, alright? Okay.
Sometimes I reread my favorite books from back to front. I start with the last chapter and read backward until I get to the beginning. When you read this way, characters go from hope to despair, from self-knowledge to doubt. In love stories, couples start out as lovers and end as strangers. Coming-of-age books become stories of losing your way. Your favorite characters come back to life.
First things first: THE COVER. This cover is gorgeous, and absolutely perfect for everything that happens in this book, and I just… When I saw this cover, before I even read the blurb way way back when (what was it, a few months ago? that’s a long time in my world) I KNEW I had to read this book. I didn’t even care what the book was about: I had to read it. And having just finished the book, I adore how perfectly the cover design encapsulates the story hiding within: white walls, white clothes, and nothing…into everything. Everything. All at once. The cover is gorgeous, and I tip my hat to the designer that came up with it for a job well done.
I was trying so hard to find the single pivotal moment that set my life on its path. The moment that answered the question, ‘How did I get here?’
But it’s never just one moment. It’s a series of them. And your life can branch out from each one in a thousand different ways. Maybe there’s a version of your life for all the choices you make and all the choices you don’t.
The characters are realistic and complex and unique and wonderfully portrayed. Because this is written in Madeline’s POV, obviously we only get a sense for the other characters through her eyes, her ears, her senses…but Nicola Yoon did such a spectacular job on Madeline’s voice, you won’t find anything lacking in the descriptors. These characters leap to life, bringing new adventures and surprises to each page, at turns breaking hearts and mending them with just a few words. With just one small gesture. Honestly, reading this book was like getting a tiny glimpse into these characters’ souls. I loved every single minute of it.
The story is also gorgeously done. Near the 80% mark, when I knew something was bound to happen to bring everything to a close, I had a pretty good idea that the climax for this journey could only go one of two ways. And I was right…but I was also so, so wrong, because it didn’t go JUST one way. It went, unexpectedly, both. Nicola Yoon anticipated, foreshadowed, and divulged with brilliance—every piece was delivered at the right moment, nothing was too much or too little. Everything came to a startling and genius close and I applaud her for that.
One thing I’m certain of: Wanting just leads to more wanting. There’s no end to desire.
This is a book meant to be devoured. Preferably in one sitting, because once you start, I doubt you’ll be able to put it down for any extended amount of time. The morals are strong, wisely-developed, and brilliantly delivered; this is a book that’s bound to stay with you, make you think about your own life, make you wonder if you’re going about living all wrong. I definitely recommend the read to lovers of YA contemporary/realistic fiction! This is a book I will most assuredly be returning to for a re-read in the future.