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.
Why I liked it: While parts of the plot of Everything, Everything were a stretch for me (Madeline is totally cut off from the world because of her illness, but doesn't have an inkling that there isn't actually anything wrong with her despite the fact that she is never sick), the whirlwind romance between Maddy and Olly is one to which any teenager who has ever been in love can relate.
The two are immediately attracted to each other and once they finally meet in person, they can't get
enough of each other. Both characters are struggling with controlling parents. Olly's father is an abusive alcoholic and Maddy's mother is afraid of losing her because of her illness as she has already lost her husband and son in a terrible car accident. Throughout the novel Maddy and Olly push each other to do more, be better, but are also extremely caring and protective. Their relationship (except for one sexy scene) is sweet and innocent.
My favorite character in the book is Carla, who has cared for Madeline for most of her life. Carla has Maddy's best interests at heart and wants to see her happy, which is why she goes behind Maddy's mother's back to bring Olly into the house. She also suspects that Madeline might not really be sick and helps her to investigate once Maddy come to the same realization..
Classroom application: Throughout the book are Maddy's "spoiler alerts," funny one to two line summaries of famous books that she has read. Ask students to write their own about Everything, Everything or for other books, short stories, etc. that they've read recently. Students will not only practice the skill of summarizing, but the short length will make them focus on word choice as well.
For after reading projects, students could research SCID, the disease from which Maddy supposedly suffers, or create an orrery, a mechanical model of the solar system like the one Olly has on his roof. Researching SCID could be part of a cross-curricular science unit on strange chronic illnesses, and creating an orrery would require both science and mathematical knowledge.
The novel would be a good pairing with other texts that deal with love against the odds and/or serious illness like Romeo and Juliet, The Fault in Our Stars, or Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:
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