Maddy has SCID also known as “bubble-boy syndrome”. If she leaves the house, she’ll get sick–she’s allergic to pretty much everything. This is a fact that Maddy has come to accept. She spends time with her doctor mother and her nurse Carla. She had never really wanted to go outside until the day Olly moves in next door. Olly is so full of life and Maddy can’t help but to wonder what it would be like to live life like Olly.
I liked this book quite a bit because it’s so different from other YA books that I’ve read. Maddy is diverse in a lot of ways. She’s part black and part Asian, she has this awful disease, and she doesn’t have a typical family (her father and brother passed away in a car accident). I just loved how all of those elements came together to create a character who felt very real. I really liked the relationship between Maddy and her mom in the beginning of the book. Going into it, you might expect the teenage girl to be resentful of her parent and other caretakers, but Maddy is very respectful and mature. I was happy that there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of angst. Olly was an okay character to me. For some reason he didn’t feel very genuine.
I loved, loved, LOVED all of the variety with the chapters! It was so fun and made the book SUPER readable. In addition, there were some things (like the chats and emails) that helped to move the plot along without taking too much time. Then there were other things (like homework pages and Post-It notes) that showed characters’ personalities really well. It made the book seem more journal-ish and it made the characters more real to me.
The relationship between Maddy and Olly progressed a little too quickly for me and it had a maturity to it that I didn’t get from the characters individually. I know the author tried to use chat and emails to progress the relationship, but it just felt too quick to me. I wish they had spent more time as friends than in love. It almost seems like Maddy’s fallen in love with the first boy her age that she’s seen. At the same time, I’m not sure what Olly sees in Maddy. Don’t get me wrong, Maddy seems like an awesome girl, but the book mostly focuses on what Maddy’s getting out of the relationship. What does Olly get out of it? I’m not really sure.
Overall, I thought this book was great. This is Nicola Yoon’s first book and I’m excited to see what the future holds for her!
Overall Rating: 5
Violence: Moderate. Some scenes with/talk of physical and verbal abuse.
Sexual Content: Moderate. One scene in particular, not explicit.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate. Teenage character smokes, adult character drinks a lot.
Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.