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.
I really enjoyed this book – it was in parts hilarious and bittersweet, but there were two major sticking points which I couldn’t overlook, unfortunately.
But let’s start with the good. I loved the development of the romance. It was super cute, and the banter was glorious, and while they’d progressed to ‘I Love You’s’ by the end of the book, the relationship had covered the span of a few months. The humour was awesome – the Bundt cake saga had me snorting with laughter. I also enjoyed Madeline’s imagination in the face of her isolation, and her attempts at positivity.
The writing, meanwhile, was highly engaging, and I pretty much devoured the book. It tackles an interesting premise, and there was some thoughtful/profound commentary on the nature of life lived in a bubble, family, and experiences that we take for granted.
1. Madeline and Olly made some dumbass decisions – with a condition as serious as hers, you do not sneak around because it COULD LITERALLY KILL HER. WTF?!
2. The plot twist, which will not reveal here, but which I thought cheapened the whole story.
Anyway, most people have adored this book, and despite my qualms, I found it to be a lovely read.
ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.