Published: September 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5+ Stars
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
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.
This book. This book... just... this book. This book is everything. There are few books I've read that I can relate to on a level that is borderline perfect. This is one of them. Before I get into that, I have to tell you how much I love the book in general. I felt this book had just the right amount of detail when it comes to the main character's environment, what she could see from her window.. even down to the medical terminology used to describe Maddy's disorder. Then add the cutest sketches and little handwritten workbook pages. I read this on a Kindle and STILL the sketches were just a plus for me.
Back to the 'this is book is EVERYTHING' part of my review.. well, this book is almost me. Maddy is a teenager who is allergic to everything. Her mom has had her sequestered in a sealed house since Maddy was a toddler. Think of John Travolta in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble except this girl had a house and couldn't leave it. This part resonates with me a on few different levels. I am allergic to so my friggin' things. Febreeze, dryer sheets, strong fragrances, cigarette smoke, dogs, cats, pollens, grass.. THE AIR. Now my problems are in no way as extreme as Maddy's medical issues, but I do have an immune disorder as well. Which basically means I tend to get whatever sickness that is going around. Maddy can walk outside and potentially die. I felt so many of the same feelings as Maddy, except she is almost ALWAYS optimistic. Me.. not so much. Sometimes it gets me down that I have at least 3 doctor appointments a month. Maddy takes everything in stride and reminded me to chip up and be grateful.
Maddy watches a new family move in next door from her window and she ultimately strikes up a friendship with a boy her age named Olly. He's into parkour and fights with his dad a lot. They start chatting by her miming words from behind her window and Olly writing on poster boards. (How cute is that?) Then they start emailing and chatting online. Olly makes Maddy want more. More than being stuck in her bubble for the rest of her life. Maybe having a short, full-filling life is better than having a long, un-lived life.
This book touched me because I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My disorder keeps me from doing so many things in life that I want to do. Maddy is a fictional character who is an inspiration for me. She stops seeing herself and an ill person and starts to see herself as the witty, funny, smart person she is who just happens to have a medical condition. This book will forever hold a place is my heart.
Cross-posted at The Tattooed Biblio