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Literature / Everything, Everything

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Everything, Everything is a Young Adult novel by Nicola Yoon. It tells the story about the Delicate and Sickly Madeline, who suffers from Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). In plain English, she's so incredibly susceptible to infection and disease that she can't ever leave her hermetically sealed house or interact with anything unsanitized. She has close to no contact with anybody except her mother and her private nurse Carla.

But one day, a new family, the Brights, moves into the house next door, and Madeline becomes fascinated by the funny and handsome Olly, the teenage son of the household. A friendship quickly buds between the two, but it rapidly grows into something more...

Provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Olly's dad freely uses violence towards any family members whom he feels deserves it.
    • Madeline's mother turns out to have deluded herself about Madeline being sick the whole time. She secluded her from society to minimize the chances of her losing Maddy as much as possible.
  • Anti-Villain: Pauline. She loves Madeline with all her heart, but that love caused her to convince herself that Madeline has SCID, and consequentially keeping Madeline isolated from the entire world for seventeen years. Also, while nothing excuses what she did, it's clear that she's not so much evil as she is mentally unstable, since she still believes Madeline is sick at the end of the novel. So while she's sympathetic, Madeline isn't about to forgive her anytime soon, if at all.
  • Artistic License Medicine: It's more or less common knowledge that doctors aren't supposed to practice on their own families. Madeline's mother is her doctor, but mostly, we can let that slide due to Willing Suspension of Disbelief... until we find out Pauline was actually delusional about Madeline being sick, and ignored other, impartial doctors who told her Madeline was fine. Of course, most people wouldn't go as far as imprisoning their kid 24/7 for seventeen years, but that kind of severe lapse in judgement and desperation to keep someone alive, no matter what the cost, is precisely why doctors should not practice on their families. Lampshaded by the doctor from Hawaii, who advises Madeline to consult a doctor that isn't related to her.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Pauline genuinely believes Madeline is sick. After so many years, she even deluded herself that she got an official diagnosis.
  • Bookworm: Madeline reads a lot, because there's not much else for her to do.
  • Cool Big Sis: Carla, despite being Madeline's nurse and old enough to be her mother, has this dynamic with her. She's protective and blunt with Madeline, but deeply cares for her, and is concerned with her emotional health as well as her physical health. She even lets Madeline go to Hawaii, and encourages her to look for evidence that she's not really sick.
  • Disappeared Dad: When Madeline was an infant, her dad was killed alongside her brother in an accident by a truck driver.
  • Domestic Abuse: A staple of the Bright household. Olly's father screams at and insults his family members repeatedly, and physical abuse is implied.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Zach, a friend of Olly's in Maui, has parents who are very orthodox. They don't tolerate anything other than a traditional nuclear family and careers, and Zach hasn't even bothered telling that he's gay and wants to be a rockstar (or, in his words, "an African-American Freddie Mercury") because he knows they'll never accept him.
  • Foreshadowing: Maddy mentions feeling lightheaded and heart pangs on their trip to Hawaii. She's developing myocarditis.
  • Hired Help as Family: Madeleine's nurse Carla is seen by her as a member of the family, but after that her mother finds out Carla has allowed Olly to come and visit Madeleine. She fires her and replaces her with another nurse who is most definitely not considered a family member. Carla is rehired later as a form of bribery to get Madeleine to toe the line, and is the person she turns to when she and Olly try to run off together.
  • Irony: By keeping her in a sterile bubble for 17 years, Madeline's mother, erroneously convinced that she has an immune-system disorder, incidentally caused her perfectly healthy child to effectively develop one through atrophy and lack of exposure to normal pathogens.
  • It's All About Me: Madeline's mother, in a subtle way. While she does love Madeline, everything she did was about preventing herself from experiencing another heartbreak. Her entire delusion was centered around the idea that Maddy needed to be protected from outside harm as much as possible, regardless of how badly doing so would affect her.
  • Lethal Chef: You do not want to eat one of Mrs. Bright's Bundt cakes. Not that eating them are even an option. They're inedible in the most literal sense of the word.
  • Love Makes You Crazy:
    • Madeline decides to risk her life multiple times in numerous ways just so she can meet up with Olly in person.
    • The deaths of her husband and son caused Pauline to have a psychotic breakdown, and she isolated Madeline for seventeen years over fear of losing her too.
  • Mask of Sanity: Pauline never recovered from the deaths of her husband and son, and still suffers severe trauma and psychosis over it. Despite this, she managed to uphold her delusion over her daughter's illness to multiple people for seventeen years.
  • My Beloved Smother: Pauline is very close to her daughter. She's basically her only friend besides Carla, and is very, very protective of her, which is understandable since one slip-up could lead to Madeline dying. But then you find out Madeline's not really sick...
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Pauline (Madeline's mom) lost her husband and son in a car wreck when Madeline was only a baby. This leads to her having a psychotic breakdown and concluding that Madeline has SCID, and needs to be protected from the entire world. Carla admits she always suspected Pauline wasn't ever quite sane after Madeline's father and brother died.
  • The Outside World: Since Madeline hasn't left her house in seventeen years, she regards everything outside of it as being simply "Outside", capitalizing the word most times she mentions it.
  • Posthumous Character: Madeline's father and older brother died in a car crash shortly after she was born.
  • Precision F-Strike: Olly's dad says "shit" in a flashback, which is the only instance of strong profanity in the book.
  • Race Lift: In the novel, Madeline is half Japanese and half black. In the movie, she's played by half-black, half-caucasian Amandla Stenberg. Her mother, Japanese in the book, is black in the film.
  • Red Herring: After leaving her house for the first time in seventeen years, Maddy gets severely ill and has to go to the hospital in Hawaii, but it had nothing to do with her SCID. That's because she doesn't even have it; the illness was caused by myocarditis, which was probably influenced by her underdeveloped immune system.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Madeline's father and brother died years before when she was just a baby, and, before The Reveal, are only mentioned a few times in the novel, but their deaths caused Madeline's mother to have a psychotic breakdown and delude herself into believing that Madeline had SCID.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Very understandably, this is Madeline's reaction to finding out her mother had wasted seventeen years of her life over her delusion of Maddy's illness. It's not entirely clear if she'll ever forgive her for it.
  • Title Drop: "Love is worth everything. Everything."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The novel was inspired by the birth of the author's daughter, and the protective and maternal feelings that followed, which made the author wonder how far she'd be willing to go to protect her child, under the right circumstances.
  • Walking Spoiler: It's hard to talk about Madeline's mother without revealing she fabricated Madeline's illness, and has been severely mentally unstable ever since her husband and son died.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The chapter "For Your Eyes Only." Madeline may not be really sick.
    • A little bit later, the chapter "Proof of Life" comes, in which Maddy ransacks her mother's office, only to find no proof of a SCID diagnosis. When Pauline comes and Maddy sees how confused and delusional she is, Maddy then knows for sure that is not sick nor ever has been.
  • Wham Line:
    • Sent in the email by Dr. Francis: "I don't believe you have, or have ever had, SCID."
    • "I am not sick and I never have been."