Review: Everything, Everything

Posted: 20/05/2017 in book reviews, books
Tags: , , ,

Everything, Everything
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Content warnings: mental illness, inaccurate showing of illness (SCID), abuse (physical and verbal), child abuse, munchausen’s by proxy, alcohol abuse mentioned, domestic abuse, abuse of medical license, discussions of illnesses, discussions of medical testing


I WANTED to love this book. And initially I really did. And I partially still do. To an extent. I love the author’s writing style. I love that the author writes in a way that makes me want to just sit and devour the book in one sitting (and this also happened when I read The Sun is Also a Star so I know it wasn’t just a one off with this book and is a thing with the author’s writing style). I LOVED that it wasn’t just your typical two white people meet and fall in love story. Which, especially for YA is nice. It was also nice that it wasn’t hammered in that the MC, Maddy, was biracial. It was mentioned yes and it was mentioned that it was part of her identity and who she was (as it should be) but it wasn’t in a “oh and did I mention that I’m biracial?” in the way that some other white MC led books seem to do with the constant mentions to the white/alabaster/porcelain skin (and really authors, it’s lazy, boring, and insulting when you do this and not just in reference to white skin but any race unless it’s relevant to the story and I’m not talking just “character looks in mirror and notices skin in comparison to so and so” or something like that. You don’t have to constantly remind readers of the colour of your characters skin at every second I can think of at least 5 YA series that do this, another 10 books that aren’t part of series in the YA genre, and double the numbers for both in adult genres that do it….in *ALL* genres and not just “older” books but newer ones too as in published in the last 5 years).

I do need to note that if you haven’t read Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes), The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), The Stranger (Albert Camus), Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett), Nausea (Jean-Paul Sartre), Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), & Lord of the Flies (William Golding),  and don’t want to be spoiled, DON’T READ THIS BOOK. Particularly Flowers for Algernon. Flowers for Algernon is Maddy’s favourite book so she re-reads it and talks about it a few times. If you want to see the pages, my twitter thread is here. Some of the books she does her mini spoiler reviews for, she completely gets the point of the book wrong (as in like, when *I* was a teen I didn’t get the point as wrong as she did like with Lord of the Flies. It’s not that boys are savages. And if that’s all you get out of that book, you might be reading the book wrong.)

This isn’t a romance book. It’s a book about abuse. Child abuse specifically. With a sprinkling of “you can’t be happy if you’re disabled”. I personally don’t have SCID or any other illness where I’m basically allergic to the world. But I’ve known people (online only) who do. And personally, I wouldn’t discount reviewers who have illnesses such as this or similar to this. I’d listen to them more than I’d listen to me. Such as this review. But I also agree that the mum walking in and out of the house felt so off. From everything I know about being sick and weakened immune systems (cancer’s a high runner in my family so that is a huge issue with certain members because of chemo and needing to not be around people who may be sick and all so the severity part of it, I understand and have personal experience with), her mum would’ve needed to change clothes and scrub down before entering the house (as would *EVERYONE* entering depending on the severity of the illness). And even with her mum having basically undiagnosed and untreated Munchausen’s by proxy (which is where the child abuse comes in) and being a doctor, she should KNOW that.

Onto the mother. California, the state I live in, is NOT that lax when it comes to a parent who is a doctor taking care of a child with that serious of an illness. There’s a lot more checks and balances and other doctors double checking. Mostly because of the ethics involved in treating family members as well as biases. For the safety and well being of both parties essentially (I talked to a few of my actual doctor friends and a few of my actual doctors about it who have said so so the veracity of that can be challenged as I haven’t actively seen anything stating as such). And the mother being able to hide that for as long as she did (I know it’s not 18 years but Maddy is 18 when she finds out) is really suspect to me. Yes, there’s varying degrees of Munchausen’s but it’s hard as fuck to hide a mental illness especially one that can be as serious as that. And it’s rare that Munchausen’s doesn’t lead to child abuse of some form. Usually they make their children sick intentionally (including feeding them things that will make/keep them sick). But there’s varying levels of the illness and varying ways it manifests itself. Here are a few articles about the illness (every word is a different link with exception of the first link being first two words and the second link the next two).

I hate the underlying message of the novel being that you can’t be happy or have romance if you’re disabled (or sick). We have that message beat into us in so many adult novels that we don’t need it in young adult novels. And it disappoints me that the author chose to go that route. This could have been a fantastic novel about, instead of misrepresenting a serious illness like SCID, Maddy learning about her mother having Munchausen’s by proxy and learning to live her life after that. Instead we got illness misrepresentation, child abuse, and “but hey you’re not really sick so you can be happy!” message. This isn’t a message we should be giving to teens. It’s one we should be actively avoiding giving to teens.

Then there’s the abuse that Olly and his mother endure at the hands of his father. I’m glad that his mother chose to leave him. It was the best decision she could have made. And it’s nice to see the contrasting in the two different forms of abuse shown in that showing abuse isn’t just the physical of beating people. And the affects of abuse on a family even if it’s not shown a whole lot.

Overall, I can’t in good conscience recommend Everything, Everything to anyone. But I won’t actively discourage people from reading it especially if they’re curious. As I stated, the way she writes is done well but the topic is disappointing.

Buy it here:

Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBooks|Google Play|Penguin Random House|Book Depository|Waterstones|Books A Million|Scholastic|Target|Overdrive


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