Madeline has SCID—it stands for something, but I’ve forgotten—which basically means she’s allergic to the world. She’s never been outside, and her mother has taken the highest precautions to ensure her daughter’s safety. She has a home nurse and does all her classes online—she’s even in some college courses. There’s a ventilation/air-purifier system running through their house and an airlock to make sure no contaminates can get in. Madeline doesn’t know any other life. This is the way it’s always been. Until the neighbors move in. Soon, she’s captivated by the new family, especially Olly, who’s determined to entertain her through the window since she’s declined his invitations to come over and hang out. Incorporating her new friend and feelings into her sickly life is a new challenge, but it’s one she’s willing to make. Her mom on the other hand, will do whatever she can to keep Madeline safe.
First, I want to give a big Stars Holla out to the diversity in this book. Madeline is half African-American, half-Japanese, and it’s finally done in such a normal way because she’s just a person and this is who she is and it’s not crazy essential to the story, it’s just her character’s background. Thank god for someone who is finally writing about this as it should be—more ubiquitous and totally normal. I loved that.
Next, I love that this story both was and wasn’t what I expected. It’s the first one in a while that’s really been both things. It was a contemporary story about a girl experiencing love for the first time, and it was a big sappy/dramatic the way all teenager’s feelings are. But it was so much more once I got going, and I was so impressed with the author’s ability to pull that from out of nowhere but also lead up to it so well that I didn’t realize what was happening until it happened. Totally impressive writing skills.
It brought up so many more real issues that I was not expecting at all and in such a good way that I was floored. It’s been a while since a book kind of pulled the rug out from under me because I had literally ZERO clues that led me there. But not in a major plot-twist the nurse is an assassin or something kind of way. A much more grounded and normal thing. I was just so taken aback by the whole set up of this story because it was so well done.
The illustrations were also wonderful, and the various pieces throughout the book added so much more to the story. I loved the images of her email inbox, the lists she made, her spoiler-heavy reviews of classic literature that were usually just one or two lines. Everything about the way the story was told had me totally and completely immersed in Madeline’s life.
But can we talk for a quick second about the white thing? And by white, I mean the literal color white. Madeline has like, a million white T-shirts and their whole house is white, and they talk about everything being white and clean all the time. I thought it was something to do with the dye in clothing? I’m not sure. But after a while, this started to bug me. I just didn’t like the stereotypical-ness of the white, shiny things stuff.
But that was a totally minor afterthought. I was also a little disappointed in the last like, two pages. But not enough for it to ruin the story. I just loved the book.
“LIFE IS SHORT
Spoiler reviews by MadelineTHE STRANGER BY ALBERT CAMUS WAITING FOR GODOT BY SAMUEL BECKETT NAUSEA BY JEAN-PAUL SARTRE
Spoiler alert: Everything is nothing.
I love the cover and the feel of this book. Granted, I have an ARC so it’s a paperback, but it’s one of those soft covers with the embossed lettering which I love. And it totally reminds me of this video I saw recently of a man who is colorblind being given glasses that let him see colors. (Spoiler alert: I cried. You probably will too.)
This is kind of what it was like for Madeline to have any interaction with the outside world. Seemingly normal things to us were overwhelming and amazing to her.
Talk to me!
Have you read this yet? What do you think about the book?
Did you cry when you watched the video? I totally did, even again when I watched it the second time.