Madeline has a rare disease. She is allergic to the world. One step outside, one germ that creeps in, could lead to her death. All her life she has lived inside her house, in the bubble of safety that her mother provides for her. She receives online tuition and has 1:1 medical care from her nurse. Madeline has spent her time dreaming about what the outside world is like, having never experienced true friendship, love, or any traditional coming-of-age experiences. Her only friend is her mom.
Her world starts to become claustraphobic when Olly moves in to the house across the road. He is the definition of dreamy and mysterious. Olly and Madeline strike up a friendship, miming to each other from their windows, and eventually use IM to get to know each other a little better. What Madeline finds is that Olly makes her feel like there is so much more to life than staying safe. His quirky, flippant attitude rubs off on her and she is drawn to him in ways that she has never experienced before. What will Madeline do to prevent the ‘what-ifs’? Will she play it safe, or will she risk it all for the sake of living life to the full?
If I’m totally honest, I was disappointed with this book. I first came across this book in a newsletter from Oprah’s Book Club and took a screen shot of it so that when I went looking for a new book I’d keep my eye out for it. I mean, if Oprah recommends it it has to be good, right?
It was a very easy read, and it was pleasant, but I felt that it was far too obvious. I felt that I knew very early on what the outcome of the book would be and I was right. It may have just been far too light for my liking, but as Young Adult books go I wasn’t too impressed. It is due to be released as a movie this summer and even though the book didn’t do much for me, I can see why it would have cinematic appeal.
The book does have the underlying message of ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ but it felt like a bit of a cop out. I felt that the story had a lot of potential and the way that it ended – as initially predicted within the first few pages – was extremely disappointing. I don’t think that this is a book I would recommend. It felt as though the narrative took the easy road. And, if I’m completely honest, I’m hoping that the filmmakers take artistic liberty to change the ending to make it a much more compelling and believable story. I feel like that is harsh criticism, but unfortunately I cannot help but feel disappointed in it.