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.
Don’t let the blurb fool you; this book is so much more than a doomed love story, it’s about hope, it’s about being brave, it’s about living. I’m very fragile at the moment, I may burst out crying for no appparent reason.
If my life were a book and you read it backward, nothing would change. Today is the same as yesterday. Tomorrow will be the same as today. In the book of Maddy, all the chapters are the same.
Madeline is a girl with a rare disease that’s forced her in her own decontaminated home, with her decontaminated air, and decontaminated people, for her whole life. Since she can’t go outside and going inside her house is complicated, the only people she’s ever had contact with are her mom and her nurse, Carla. Of course the internet allows her to take classes online, and to have internet friends, but that’s not really enough for anyone. Madeline is very smart, brave, and funny, and despite everything, she’s happy. I loved how differently the relationship between Madeline and her mom was potrayed; Madeline doesn’t have that teenage angst that so often makes that relationship turbulent during high school, she loves her mom, and she acknowledges her mom’s love.
And it’s not just Olly that I see. I keep picturing myself floating high above the earth. From the edge of space I can see the whole world all at once. My eyes don’t have to stop at a wall or at a door. I can see the beginning and the end of time. I can see infinity from there. For the first time in a long time, I want more than I have.
Everything changes when Olly moves to the house next door. From the window of her room, Madeline watches Olly and his family, and he notices. That’s how the two start this unique relationship, miming at their windows, chatting online, and basically falling in love with each other, even though they want to be just friends. For the first time in her life she wants more; playing games with her mom isn’t enough, reading books isn’t enough, talking with Carla isn’t enough.
Madeline: Let’s agree to just be friends, ok?
Olly: 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?
Aren’t they adorable? I just held on to my pillow whenever these two were together. Both characters are really well rounded, Olly’s family has its own problems and he deals with them as he can. He has dreams and hopes and Madeline really doesn’t want to become an obstacle for him, and she doesn’t want to break his, and her own heart. But, yeah, we all know the heart is always one step ahead of the mind. Since Carla allowed them to meet, in a very controlled environment (no touching), they couldn’t help falling for each other.
I want to say something, not just something, but the perfect thing to comfort him, to make him forget his family for a few minutes, but I can’t think of it. This is why people touch. Sometimes words are just not enough. Our eyes meet and, since I can’t hug him, I wrap my arms around my own waist, holding on tight.
Things aren’t easy, but don’t try to guess how this ends, because you won’t see it coming until the author gives you big red arrows signaling what’s about to happen. And that completely broke my heart. This book was unique, beautifully written, with diverse characters, a fantastic plot, and a romance guaranteed to make you swoon. Plus, there are these really awesome insert at the end of every chapter, you’ll love them for sure.
“Is it always like that?” I ask, breathless. “No,” he says. “It’s never like that.” I hear the wonder in his voice. And just like that, everything changes.
I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to spoil anything. But really this book deserves your attention, so go grab a copy!
“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.”