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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.
In the beginning there was nothing. And then there was everything.
There are very few things in this world that I take for granted. I have always had a better-than-I-ever-could-have-imagined life, that has never been a secret, but I didn’t act….spoiled….I guess. I always knew that I had super cool parents and unheard of privileges-I loved it, and I never forgot that. But one thing that I absolutely, positively, definitely took for granted…was life. Breathing fresh air, walking outside, hearing birds chirp and trees rustle as the cool breeze brushed my skin in autumn…I won’t lie-Those things?? Those are the most beautiful things in the world-Fall especially, seeing as it’s my favorite season-and I took every crisp breath of fresh air for granted.
Not many kids, teenagers, sometimes even adults, realize how amazing their lives-however significant or insignificant they think it is-are. We walk onto our front porch, stretch, sit in a rocking chair looking out into our yard, the woods, a field, whatever we may see, and sip our coffees (or in my case, a soda, preferably Coke or Mountain Dew) and wipe the sleep from our eyes without even thinking about how beautiful this recurring gift is. We hug our dogs, puppies, sons, daughters, families….and think it’s a certainty. It’s not. Each day is a gift, and we often forget to acknowledge it….But Madeline knows the cost of living-and her price is solitude. And oh, what she wouldn’t give to have what we have-even for just five minutes.
I keep thinking about the summer I turned eight. I spent so many days with my forehead pressed against my glass window, bruising myself with my futile wanting. At first I just wanted to look out the window. But then I wanted to go outside. And then I wanted to play with the neighborhood kids, to play with all the kids everywhere, to be normal for just an afternoon, a day, a lifetime.
I think my long introduction has a lot to do with me coming to terms with how amazing my life is-and can be. I complain a lot, you know? It might be human nature, it might just be me, I don’t know. But, every once in a while, I get these small bouts of gratitude where, just for a moment, just a brief, tiny moment, I thank God for everything I have and become mushy and nostalgic as I think about my family, my two little pups (added a new addition this weekend!), and my lovely-most-of-the-time husband. I even find myself quoting my favorite movie (not the book, don’t get it twisted): ‘It’s a beautiful life -insert husband name here or whomever you wish- Hazel Grace’…though, I find it comical to say Hazel Grace because…I’m weird and it annoys the hubbs. As a little girl, when people asked me what I wanted to do, I knew. I would say: I want to be married and have babies and be a stay at home mom who also works for her dad (however THAT was going to work out). I know…not too exciting, right? Well, it was to me.
For the first time in a long time, I want more than I have.
It was what I wanted…and things don’t always work out as we plan. Had it been my decision, I’d have married my high school sweetheart during college-or hey, right after-and we’d have a baby by now and a big, beautiful house. But these things take time, and life isn’t about planning everything out piece-by-piece. I got my Happily-Ever-After….My house, my puppies (still working on stubborn ass for part two), my job with my dad plus more, and, after 10 years of dating, my husband-Moves like a snail, that one. But it didn’t happen as I had planned or when I wanted it to-that’s life. Anyway, my point in all this is that Madeline didn’t get these moments, these rare opportunities. Life hands us a deck of cards, but we don’t totally get to decide how they are dealt and where they are distributed. Maddie didn’t get to see the world, she didn’t get to meet other kids growing up-She dreamed of a better life, of a larger world than outside her house…but that’s literally all it could be: A dream.
Madeline: I’m not a princess.
Madeline: And I don’t need rescuing.
Olly: that’s ok. i’m no prince
Madeline: You think I’m pretty?
Olly: for a fairytale ghost spy princess? definitely
I think this book hit me so hard because it was so unexpected. I requested it months and months ago on Netgalley, and I wanted it more than my next breath…but I didn’t get it-I even got denied twice. I mean…ouch. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. And when this finally appeared on my IPad’s library…I stopped the series I was in the middle of and immediately began EE. Needless to say that, while it was cute and I found it very sweet, I wasn’t in love with it like I had thought I would be-Talk about your very soul aching. I had thought this was going to be the book-I was so disappointed.
Sometimes you do things for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong ones and sometimes it’s impossible to tell the difference.
But then something happened-SOMETHING HUGE-not even in the story, really. All of a sudden I hit a part where, as my friend so astutely pointed out, I started to care not only about the two main characters individually, but as a couple. Olly and Maddie came to life for me-their reactions, their heartache, their struggle hurt me almost as much as it hurt them. It felt as if someone had taken a bag of feels-literally, a bag of GD feels-and socked me in the stomach with them at full force. I couldn’t breathe, I was tearing up (for real, this rarely happens), and I was so invested in them that I couldn’t bear for any more problems to arise, causing them irreparable sadness. I suddenly knew that everything I questioned, everything I wasn’t sure of…..I knew it was just the way it was meant to be and given a second chance to read this, I wouldn’t change a thing-Not one thing. It hit me out of nowhere and I was caught in their adorably tangled web of IM Messaging, window writing, sporadic meeting, and brief glimpses through two panes of glass-Only one house away but as vast as an ocean separating two continents.
He takes a deep breath. “In my head I know I’ve been in love before, but it doesn’t feel like it. Being in love with you is better than the first time. It feels like the first time and the last time and the only time all at once.”
Maddie, Madeline, or Mads, as Olly calls her, has a very rare disease where, well, I guess I’m kind of confused on, but the point is she can’t leave her house, have contact with anyone aside from her mother, caretaker, tutor, or anyone on the approved list-She especially can’t meet that boy next door…that beautiful, funny, tortured, and clever boy next door. But it’s not because of his lack of trying.
One thing I’m certain of: Wanting just leads to more wanting. There’s no end to desire.
Olly moves in next door near the beginning of the book. I can’t say much. All I can say is that his family has their own demons and Mads sees all….It doesn’t take long for the two to realize how much they crave the other’s thoughts and company…seeing as their bedroom windows (conveniently) face each other only three feet or so apart. I loved Olly…but I didn’t luuuuurrrvvvv Olly until a certain point. I’m not going to say more….I will only admonish that he is supportive, kind, sad, loyal, protective, and…hmm…curious. Despite the risks, despite the warnings, he is curious. Even when, in his heart, he knows he should stay away, he still can’t let their interactions go. He craves her laughter, her voice, her thoughts, even as everything can only end in heartbreak for both of them.
Madeline: Yes. I have a solution to our problem.
Madeline: Let’s agree to just be friends, ok?
Olly: but no more checking out my muscles
Madeline: Friends, Olly!
Olly: and my eyes
Madeline: No more talking about my freckles.
Madeline: And my hair.
Olly: and your lips
Madeline: And your dimple.
Olly: you like my dimple?
Inevitably, the two fools fall in love. And naturally, being the fool that I am, I foolishly fell in love with the fact that they fell in love. And I can’t explain it for you guys, I really can’t, because this was a three until a certain important, pivotal, ground-breaking part….But at that point it all just clicked and the light bulb switched on and I became a hard core fangirl, hehe shocking, and it was all history from there. I was texting people frantically, I was freaking out over things I had read in reviews (sigh, don’t read reviews, people, bad advertising!!!!), and the knots in my stomach were growing larger and larger and the tears were coming more and more frequently….until eventually my heart was shred in two.
He pulls me into his arms and we’re wrapped around each other, his face buried in my hair and my face pressed into his chest, no daylight between our bodies.
“Don’t die,” he says.
“I won’t,” I say back.
I can’t say this book is perfect-far from it-but it was….it was perfect for me. I had wanted to read it for months. I was almost obsessed in my quest to get this novel in my hands…and then when I finally had it, I almost became disappointed. How can anything come of such cuteness? Well, I’ll tell ya-Young love is a powerful thing. It can move mountains, if only because teenagers are so stubborn, and it can make a desperate attempt at keeping someone alive a failed experiment in two seconds flat…if only because you are willing to risk it all for love.
He’s much too smart to fall for this, but he wants it to be true. He wants it to be true more than he wants the truth. The smile that breaks across his face is cautious, but so beautiful that I can’t look away. I would lie to him again for that smile.
That was a common theme in this book, and Madeline is faced with so many choices that can make or break her-literally. And once she met Olly, everything changed: Her world was blown to bits and flipped upside down. Life is about the choices we make, who we are and who we want to become. Life is precious. Life is short. We only have one life to live…But are you really living if you aren’t willing to ever take any risks? I guess Madeline found out what her life was worth….Have you?
It was Everything I didn’t expect,
It was Everything I asked for.
It was Everything that mattered,
It was Everything and so much more.
Guys, I didn’t expect to love this book once I started. I was so unsure….but then something happened…something that changed it all. And of all a sudden-BAM! The tears, the feels, the longing, the heartache…the
Review to come.