Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance
Number of pages: 310 pages
Madeline is a 17year old girl (she turns 18 through the course of the book though) who has not left her house for 15years. The book starts out great. I mean when you get past the 15 years of a teenager never leaving their house because of a disease her mother told her she had, everything seems fine. The characters get relatable and you kinda get attached. You are so swept up by the story that you forget some few details that seem… no scratch that, details that are indeed off track.
Madeline was diagnosed with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) by her mother after getting severely ill as a baby. Pretty shady right?? I mean if all the medical dramas I’ve watched are anything to go by, if a doctor is related to someone they aren’t supposed to treat them especially if it’s something as serious as SCID. With SCID, everything makes her sick. The air, clothes, food, literally everything. They have to be (for lack of a better term) ‘sanitized’.
This book first of all is giving me the Rapunzel trapped in a castle vibes where Prince Charming comes to the rescue and in this case the Prince Charming is Olly. A rebel boy who loves wearing black. Olly moves in next door. He spends most of his time in his bedroom and on their roof because of his abusive father. Olly then develops a certain interest for the ‘girl in the window’, Maddy. So they email each other, sometimes text and get to know each other blah blah blah. It’s insane how never once did they call each other like normal fucking teenagers. I mean email all the time wow😂😂
Ok, so after a couple of emails they become friends and they develop feelings for each other. Carla, the lovely nurse, sees that Maddy has been a bit happier because of the new boy and she arranges a meet-up for them. They meet and talk about books, which Maddy loves, Olly shows her some tricks etc. Maddy says she would like to visit the ocean. Things go on well until one day Maddy sees Olly in a fight and she rushes off outside to save him. Maddy’s mum discovers that Maddy and Olly have actually met each other courtesy of Carla and she fires Carla. Maddy’s mum then tells her that she and Olly can never have anything because Olly has a life of his own outside and Maddy cannot be a part of that. So Maddy starts to pull away but she can’t until one day she snaps and decides to run away from home and go to Hawaii with Olly.
Madeline and Olly go to Hawaii after 15 years of her being locked up and everything works out fine. They explore the city, go diving and they see that fish with the weirdly long name. The next day, after Maddy has conveniently been better for just enough time for them to tick off things in her bucket list, she gets sick and has to be rushed to hospital. That’s when she meets another doctor who tells her that she doesn’t have SCID, just that her immune system is under-developed because of years of not being exposed to the outside world.
The biggest narrative implied in the book is that love is enough and if you love someone you can sacrifice even your life for them. Clearly portrayed when Madeleine went outside, knowingly endangering her health and life to save Olly. Apparently, love is worth dying for.
That’s not even the best part. This brings me to my second problem. Madeleine’s mother. First lemme give you a little background on her. She is a doctor. As earlier mentioned, Olly’s father was abusive. Madeline’s mother witnessed Olly’s dad being abusive to his wife and didn’t report it like her profession requires her to do. She even tells Maddy to stay out of it. She also lied to Madeleine that she had SCID that had her locked up in the house for fifteen years, with no physical human interaction, no travel, online school. Literally no stepping aside for a decade and a half!! How fucked up is that. That’s not even bad. Because Madeleine never went outside, her immune system got under- developed (‘like that of a baby’) = simple diseases like flu take a huge toll on her body. When she was confronted, she said it was because she wanted to protect Maddy. She couldn’t afford to lose her like she lost her husband and son. WTF!!!
Let’s talk about her nurse Carla. Carla was Maddy’s nurse for 15years. When Maddy and Olly are on their way to Hawaii, they make a quick stop to her place. She is startled to see them for sure and when she asks, Madeline explains that she bought experimental drugs off the internet. What does her nurse of 15years do? Cook’s them freaking breakfast and sends them on their merry way to Hawaii. So you are a nurse that has been caring for a patient for 15 years, you know their medication and they tell you they have bought experimental drugs off the internet and you don’t question anything. You just agree and let them go. Also, when Maddy goes to Carla after she discovers her disease was completely made up by her mother, Carla says that she had always suspected that Maddy wasn’t even sick at all. For FIFTEEN FUCKING YEARS!! You treat someone you don’t even think is sick, giving them meds. I mean c’mon. I know this is fiction but please😂😂😂Haha am I the only one finding that ridiculously outrageous . At the end Carla asks Maddy to forgive her mother. That she loved her very much and she only did what she did to protect her. LMFAO. Remember Maddy’s mother is a PRACTICING doctor ( the book says she goes to work everyday). But then 2 weeks later, sweet little Maddy forgives her mother and all is well.
Can I also just mention how the book conveniently tells us that Maddy wasn’t sick, that her sickness was completely made up by her demented mother. It practically insinuates that for her and Olly to have their happily ever after, Maddy has to become suddenly better because if she was actually sick they wouldn’t be happy??
Generally it’s a sweet love story just like any other YA fiction narrative. I’d give it a 5/10 because of these issues I’ve mentioned. A 5 also because I feel like the description was good. I read the book before watching the movie and I could picture Maddy at the window, not going outside, falling for the rebel boy next door and all that so the description gives you something to go with. If you’ve read it, I don’t know how you’d rate it but feel free to share🧡