There’s a line at the end of Pretty Woman where Richard Gere shows up to claim Julia Roberts. He climbs up the fire escape, purportedly to rescue her from the awful life she’ll have to go back to now that their arrangement is over. Then he asks her what happens after the prince rescues the princess and she says, “The princess rescues him right back.” That scene came to mind when I read this book.
The novel was truly everything – everything I wanted to read, most of what I wanted to write.
Since she was a baby, Maddy has had the immune deficiency disease known as SCID – the bubble disease – so she’s allergic to everything. She can’t go Outside or she’ll implode and die. Her mother, who’s also her doctor, and her round-the-clock nurse, Carla, take care of her and check her vitals every couple of hours to make sure she doesn’t get sick. Once in a while, a tutor comes but he has to plan ahead so he can do a complete physical a few days before and go through a purification chamber so he’s cold by the time he enters the room. And even then, he has to stand a few feet away.
No one can enter Maddy’s world. Her being eighteen means nothing different from when she was five. No friends. And especially no boys. And definitely no physical contact.
Until Spiderman-wannabe Olly moves in next door and his mom sends over an indestructible Bundt cake which Maddy can’t accept. This starts Olly on a whole journey to figure out why Maddy is always locked up and how he can rescue her. Can he climb up to her window and rescue her like Rapunzel? Can he kiss her back to life like Sleeping Beauty?
As a YA novel, this is a perfect modern coming-of-age story, complete with kids communicating by instant messaging and getting caught up in credit card fraud. Maddy starts off as the little girl you’ve been taught to be sorry for – the damsel in distress, the Cinderella who hasn’t got an invitation to the ball, Snow White with the evil stepmother – until you realize she can and will rescue herself, and that she will go out and find her fairy godmother and secure her own happy ending if she needs to.
The well-placed references to other well-known and well-loved books and the strong feminist themes cements Everything Everything on my favorites list. The fact that the author is a Jamaican woman and that the main characters are African-American just gives me more reasons to cheer and recommend this is a must-read.
If I had to change anything
I’d take out the sexual reference
4.5 to 5 stars