“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.”
Madeline Whittier has grown up in a bubble; she just turned eighteen and has spent the last seventeen years of her life interacting only with her doctor mother and nurse, Carla. Madeline has SCID, a disease so rare it is famous. Madeline’s life is fine- she reads a lot of books, goes to Skype tutoring sessions and has a close relationship with her mother but when a new family moves next door Madeline begins to wonder if there is something else out there for her.
Olly, the new neighbor’s son, sees Madeline looking at him out the window and they eventually exchange email addresses without Dr. Whittier finding out. I listened to the audio book, per badkittyuno’s suggestion, where the email & IM exchanges are adorably acting out between an actor and actress. The two begin to plot a way to meet each other; the begin falling in love through email and brief, chaste in person exchanges.
The easiest comparison is Hazel and Gus in The Fault in Our Stars but somehow Everything, Everything had more gut punches. The twist near the end, which I began to see coming but nonetheless devastated me, is beautifully executed and fleshes out a few inconsistencies from the beginning portion of the novel. You really feel for this modern day Romeo and Juliet.