Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon [in School Library Journal]
Nicola Yoon’s superb debut begins and ends with books. Stories are how 18-year-old Madeline has survived with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency – “you know it as ‘bubble baby disease’” – in her sanitized world that includes only her doctor mother and a nurse.
She’s been content enough with taking classes via Skype, having movie nights with Mom, and posting Tumblr book reviews … until Olly and his troubled family move in next door. What begins with glimpses through windows progresses to computer screens, until love proves unavoidable and the truth inevitable.
Narrator Bahni Turpin showcases her signature diverse range, effortlessly voicing 18-year-old mixed-race Japanese African American Madeline, her middle-aged mother, and her nurse, a Mexican immigrant. Although Robbie Daymond faultlessly narrates Olly’s online exchanges, the effect is noticeably jarring when Turpin reclaims the narration – including as Olly. Brief drop-ins by veterans Hillary Huber and Ann Marie Lee reading minor characters’ life-altering messages are thoughtful enhancements.
Verdict: Swooning first-love-with-a-seriously-ill-partner novels are undoubtedly multiplying; this is the best multicultural choice of them all.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult