This young adult debut is simplistically entertaining. I’m working on a young adult novel, so I saw this one was going to become a film after being released just a year ago. It’s about a girl named Maddy who has that condition of being allergic to everything who’s kept in the house all day and starts to spy on her new cute neighbor, Olly.
They fall in love by sharing at first posters against their bedroom windows to instant messaging each other constantly. As they learn more about each other, they’re determined to actually meet in person. With Maddy like a modern-day Rapunzel stuck in her house all day, Olly tries to figure out how to be with her. Maddy’s home nurse, Carla, secretly allows them to meet in person in the house with extra disinfection without letting Maddy’s mother Pauline know. Carla can’t keep letting the secret meetings to happen because they’ll be too hard to hide from Pauline, her boss. This triggers more drastic measures for Maddy to take as she uses her credit card to purchase tickets to Hawaii for she and Olly. It shows how much Maddy is willing to sacrifice to not only have a friend but a connection to the real world she never experienced.
The storyline was simple yet I kept flipping to see what was next. It’s broken into short chapters with illustrations done by her husband David Yoon, which makes the entire book more digestible. Maddy’s curiosity and desperation to go outside is apparent on almost page as she draws figures, write book reviews, and occupy herself all day with home school and other brain-teasing activities.
The one thing that didn’t jive was the character is supposed to be half black and half Japanese since the author has an interracial family, but adding race and culture to the character fell flat. If the author wanted it to be a factor, then it really needed to be a factor, with incorporating more culture in the relationship between Maddie and her mother; or describing their physical features more; or having Maddie question Olly’s attraction to her because of her race and skin color—these are all real moments for a teenage girl that could’ve been added in lightly to the storyline. And even though Maddie hadn’t been in the real world, she was home-schooled and took history, so she knew race is an issue.
Overall, it was cute quick read, and I look forward to seeing the movie.