*An ARC of this book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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.
So, first of all, did you read The Things That Keep Us Here? Because it starts out remarkably similarly to this book: A very sick teenager who’s not allowed to leave the house celebrating their birthday with a very involved mother. Then this book becomes kind of The Fault in Our Stars meets Rapunzel Untangled plus every teen romance ever written. So, while it looks original on the surface, it wasn’t actually original at all.
Then why the 3 stars? Well. I liked the characters. I liked the way the romance built, the banter, the cute interactions. I loved the way the story was told through illustrations and medical charts and emails and all manner of fun, inventive media. I loved Maddy deciding that she wanted to live and taking action rather than just existing. I thought Olly’s family storyline was interesting and tragic and hopeful all at the same time. It was an addition that was worth reading.
Anyway, we go into this book thinking it’s a doomed star-crossed lover scenario. I was expecting a tragic ending. Things move along nicely, we get the “can’t go outside” melodrama, the bittersweet “we know it’ll have to end” teen romance. But then everything changes. We get a typical YA plot twist. And it was disappointing. I wanted to see how this young couple would overcome obstacles and find a way to be together… or not. So, in short, I was prepared for a tragic ending. But I didn’t get it. And it made me sadder than if I had.
But, still, it was a fast, entertaining read. I did enjoy it. The humor and romancey-cuteness alone was enough for me keep reading. Maybe you’ll like it, too.
Sexual Content: Moderate (a love scene but not graphic)
Language: Mild (if any)
Drugs/Alcohol: None (other than medical stuff)