Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Nicola Yoon
Illustrator: David Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Madeline can count on one hand the amount of people she’s met face to face in the last seventeen years. In fact she can’t even leave her house, because if she does, something in the outside might trigger her SCID, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease, and result in her imminent death. But then Olly moves next door, and for the first time in ten years, Maddy—as Olly calls her—realizes there’s more to life than just existing. As she begins to build a relationship with Olly she struggles with the decision to live in her little bubble and be safe or risk it all and be happy. She decides to buy two plane tickets bound for Hawaii: one for her and one for Olly. Her moment is paradise is cut short when she comes in contact with one of her triggers, spends a few days in the hospital, and ends up back in her prison of a home to live the rest of her life without Olly or the outside. Until she gets an email saying she never actually had SCID, leaving her to come to terms with why her mom lied to her for seventeen years and figure out how to live life free of the bubble.
This book seems cliche, and many parts are, but the illustrations, characters, and message make it special. Throughout the book are scattered doodle-like images and quirky little extras that bring the story to life and offer special insights into Maddy’s life. These images build the belief of all the characters in the story and overall they are well developed. The characters really are the driving force behind this book, which allows the reader to understand Yoon's message: what makes life worth living, and what are we willing to sacrifice to figure that out? Madeline finds that love makes life worth living, and she sacrifices everything, everything for a chance to actually live.
*Contains moderate sexual content.