diverse december: biracial main character

Welcome to my first Diverse December Bingo review! A quick warning: there will be spoilers.

Everything Everything is a contemporary YA novel written by Nicola Yoon – which I’m sure most of you know! I’m sure nearly everyone has read this by now, but hey, I wanted to see what the fuss was about!

Maddy is of mixed ethnicity – half Japanese and half African-American. She has also been diagnosed with SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency). Obvious comparisons have been made to The Fault in Our Stars, but I think that is too easy an observation. Both involve very sick teenagers, this is true, but Everything Everything really delves into what that actually means. She cannot leave the house, having visitors is rare, and she basically lives through her books. I do not have SCID or a chronic physical illness, so I can’t comment on how accurate this is, but I did find myself learning a lot about the changes Maddy has to make in order to survive.

I have a lot of thoughts about the big reveal near the end or the novel. (Spoilers from here on!) I knew there was something off about Maddy’s mother, and when it was revealed that she had mis-diagnosed Maddy in order to keep her ‘safe’ inside, I felt almost relieved. I hadn’t read any reviews that mention the emotional abuse and, classic survivor, I thought I was reading too much into it.  It is a testament to Nicola Yoon’s writing abilities – their relationship made me feel deeply uncomfortable. But it hit a little too close to home, for me.

I’ve also read a little about how Maddy’s mother’s mental illness is a troubling depiction of trauma. This…is complicated. I can see where that interpretation comes from, but I also think that it is important to remember that (unresolved) trauma makes people do things they never would normally, and that not all survivors are necessarily angelic and virtuous. I think Yoon handled this quite well, as she makes it very clear that there is something psychologically wrong with Maddy’s mother, and her culpability for her actions may be limited.

As for the actual plot and romance? I liked it, but I wasn’t wowed. I understand that it is for a younger audience, but I think more could have been shown about Maddy’s life, and her romance with Olly. It was a bit insta-love. However, because the main concept was so different, it didn’t bother me all that much.

Have you read Everything Everything? Let me know!


5 thoughts on “diverse december: biracial main character

  1. Read Diverse Books says:

    Everyone has certainly not read this book! No matter how popular we think a book is, there will always be tons of people who haven’t! So thanks for writing this review.
    I actually haven’t read it yet. :s But definitely will one day. I got The Sun Is Also A Star first, so I will have to read it before I get to Everything, Everything.


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