Published September 1st 2015
I really did not love this book really at all … oops?
Madeline Whittier lives in a bubble. No seriously she suffers from SCID, also known as bubble boy syndrome. She has never left her house, her bubble. She has no friends except her mother and nurse. She is alone. Until one day, a black clad, daredevil boy moves in next door.
“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.”
What I Liked
There were some interesting and enjoyable aspects to this story. I really enjoyed learning about Madeline’s medical condition, SCID, though I think I would have liked a bit more of this? Also I liked Madeline’s accounting of her day to day mundane and the difficulties of things that those of us without such medical complications often don’t even think about.
I also didn’t mind Maddy and Olly’s developing friendship, but it felt like it moved way too fast and without enough development in place.
What I Did Not Like
The romance developed way too fast for my liking and then dove way too deep. It was a sweet budding friendship and attraction one day then it’s full blown infatuation the next. This is a problem. It’s not cute. The author never addresses this in any sort of negative way either which I found to be a bit irresponsible. I don’t actually see this as a lifetime love situation to be honest. Maybe a “I needed this at the time” sort of relationship. Olly is the catalyst for freedom for Maddy, but I do not feel like that means he is the rest of her life. And this girl is going to have some therapy to go through before she’s as stable as this book makes her out to be. I don’t know … I just felt like this “love of my life” thing was a bit much considering the situation and the age. But I’m an old lady so …
I did have some plot issues with this book as well. *MEDIUM SPOILER* I found the trip to Hawaii to be a bit overly dramatic when this would have been the perfect opportunity to highlight the normal everyday luxuries that simply being free had to offer. I mean they are in Los Angeles, California for goodness sake. There must be plenty of things to do there. In fact … I think the story of the mundane luxuries would have worked anywhere … small town nowheresville even. I don’t know … I just feel like we could have done without the dramatics which actually would have fixed a lot of my plot issues. Issues like … how does a girl who has never been a part of the outside world ecru enough credit to apply for and be approved for a credit card limit high enough for this Hawaiian vacation?! Like … I’m struggling to get to Hawaii someday and she just applies and goes … no pre existing credit whatsoever and no cosigner needed. Must be nice I guess. *END SPOILER*
Also I had a bit of issues with the fact that she had no friends at all yet she was decent with the computer and had the internet. Why wasn’t she in chatrooms and Facebook or … Goodreads considering how much she loves to read? I would have been her internet friend. Poor girl. It just seems like a few basic internet searches or a word from her nurse Carla (who has her own teenage daughter) could have given her a bit of solace in her lonely day to day life.
Another issue I had was with the plot twist … *MAJOR SPOILER* As it turns out, Maddy does not actually had SCID at all. Her mom imagined the whole thing as a way of coping with the sudden loss of her husband and son. No, I do not believe that dear old mother did any of this maliciously, it is quite clear that she acted out of fear and the desire to protect her daughter. She honestly believes it to be true even when evidence is presented to her. She is struggling with mental illness obviously … but this is never adequately addressed either. They discuss how her mother is sick in a way, but mom doesn’t get help and the whole thing is pretty much glazed over. Not to mention that everyone starts hammering Maddy about forgiveness pretty much immediately. I feel like they needed to back off quite a bit actually! I am a huge proponent of forgiveness as a way to free yourself from negative energy, absolutely. Even when it is not deserved. But give the girl some space! She just learned that her entire life till this point was basically stolen from her by the one person in the world she thought she could always trust. Let her go through some therapy for a minute before we expect forgiveness jeez! *END SPOILER*
But even after all this, I felt like my major issue with this book had to do with my lack of connection to anyone. I just didn’t care. This book didn’t make me feel anything … and I’m an extremely emotional wreck of a human so this is actually quite rare. This book should have been a remarkable journey of first love and sacrifice and hurt feelings etc., but I just felt meh at best.
I did not love this book. It is possible I didn’t even like this book. There were a lot of plot issues and relationship issues but in the end it comes down to the fact that this book utterly failed at connecting with me emotionally.