Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

I don’t read as many print books as I used to. Life got in the way and I found myself gravitating more toward audiobooks since I could multitask and listen to books that way. Every now and then though, I find myself faced with a quandary: I want to read a book that the library only has in print and that isn’t available as an audiobook in OverDrive. If that happens, I have to find the time to sit still and read. My latest print book read was Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and I’m glad I forced myself to take the time to sit and enjoy it.

Everything, Everything, I’m sure most of you know, is now a major motion picture, but that isn’t how I came to know this book. I had read Yoon’s other book, The Sun is Also a Star, and loved it. It’s an angsty teen love story that deals with deportation and a lot of other really relevant teen and adult topics. That book has also won a lot of awards. After I finished The Sun is Also a Star, I decided to give Everything, Everything a try to see if it was worth all the hype the movie was bringing to it. I’m still up in the air about it, even though this book is written beautifully with diverse characters present throughout.

Everything, Everything tells the story of a terminally ill teenage girl who falls in love with a perfectly normal teenage boy. (If you boil down all the plot elements, that’s basically it, BUT don’t do that. It’s so much more, like HUGE plot twists that even I didn’t see coming.) Family dramas abound, both inside the bubble and out, first love feels galore, and traditional teen mixed up feelings are all over this book. Add in a messed-up medical condition, a parent who is a doctor, and the deaths of family members and this book will drag you on a roller coaster of feelings from the first page to the very last.

Madeline is an Afro-Asian teenage girl who cannot remember the last time she has been outside of her house. She has a very good reason. Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. She can’t go outside, breathe fresh air, feel the sun, nothing. If she did, she could die. Maddy hasn’t left her house in seventeen years and only has contact with her mom and her nurse, Carla, on a daily basis. Her compromised immune system has left her isolated. Maddy is stuck in her air-locked house and has come to terms with it. Until the day a moving truck pulls up next door.

Drawn to the window out of pure curiosity, Maddy watches a family clamor out of the moving truck and take in their new surroundings. Maddy finds herself staring at the teenage boy who is lanky and dressed in black from head to toe. He catches her staring and they lock eyes. That’s the first time Maddy sees Olly and her life is changed forever.

Maddy quickly wants to know more about Olly and his family. From watching them, she discovers some normal, as well as some troubling, things. Maddy and Olly quickly start ‘talking’. They window communicate, IM, email, and all this leaves Maddy wanting more and more. Olly does too. What is she willing to risk for friendship and love? Will Olly accept her? What will her mom think? What will her mom do?

This book is a fantastic read. Going beyond the traditional angst of only being separated from your crush by your parents, Maddy’s disease is the one separating them. It’s a fascinating read that delved into some pretty deep topics.

You could definitely finish this book in a day. The chapters are short, but very engaging. The only reason it took me over a week to read was because I started it in the midst of a multi-day road trip. If you have time and can, more importantly, get your hands on a copy, I recommend you give this book a read. Now I’m off to watch the movie and see how close they followed the book! I hope they followed it pretty closely…

This book is also available in the following formats:

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Wildflower-450Actress Drew Barrymore is anything but conventional.  So it comes to no surprise that her book is unconventional as well. Instead of writing a memoir, Drew wrote a book of stories of her life; stories that she wanted to revisit and share with the world.  And her stories are not placed in chronological order.  One story will be about being a mother, the next one she talks about her time on the set of E.T.  As Ms. Barrymore writes herself in the preface, “This is a book you can dip into and read when you want”.  And it truly is.  You could put Wildflower down and not read it for awhile, but come across it again and be delighted with the stories.  Or, you could binge read Wildflower and learn more about Drew Barrymore.  The choice is really up to you.  Either way, this biography truly is a book of stories that are very fun to read.

I chose to listen to Wildflower on a recent roadtrip.  Drew narrates the book herself and I loved listening to her read.  My favorite part may have been when she was describing her childhood after filming E.T.  Her mother decided to move to “the Valley” and Drew blames her mother for giving her the “Valley Girl” voice that she cannot seem to get rid of.  This happens early in the book, so for the rest of the duration of the audiobook, I would catch myself laughing at her “Valley Girl” voice when she said certain phrases.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Drew Barrymore read (and sometimes scream and sometimes laugh) her own book.

Drew Barrymore has certainly led an interesting life.  She started acting when she was a toddler and describes going on auditions as a child and meeting Steven Spielberg.  Drew talks about legally separating herself from her mother when she was a teenager.  She discusses being a Barrymore and her relationship with her father.  She talks about travelling as a teenager.  Drew discusses producing and starring in movies.  And she discusses being a mother. Perhaps the sweetest story in the book is towards the end.  Drew discusses meeting her husband’s parents, Arie and Coco and how she hit the “In-Law Jackpot”.  She has such a good relationship with her in-laws that she asked Arie to walk her down the aisle and for Coco to walk in with her husband. It is quite clear that the theme of the book Wildflower is Drew Barrymore’s relationships with other people; her family, her friends, her co-stars, and the people that have touched her life.

The Fade Out: Vol. 1: Act One By Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

the fade outThe Fade Out: Vol. 1, Act One by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is a gripping journey into the film industry in the 1940s. This dark graphic novel takes place in Hollywood in 1948, beginning with Charlie Parish, one of the writers for a film studio, waking up to find Valeria, the up-and-coming lead actress of his current film lying dead, sprawled on the floor in the room next door, obviously murdered with ligature marks around her neck. The noir film he’s working on has been stuck in endless reshoots with the cantankerous German director barreling down on everyone to do what he wants perfectly or they will have to face the consequences.

Charlie finds himself struggling to write, plagued with writer’s block, troubled at keeping the secret of Val’s death, and turning for help from Gil Mason, an ex-screenwriter who has been blacklisted by the studios for being a suspected Communist. Gil and Charlie have worked out a Everyone involved on-set and off-set, from the head of the studio to the press office to the head of security seems to be hiding something and Charlie is left to wonder just what is true and just what he can tell to the people he thinks would never betray him.

This graphic novel is full of suspense, leading readers down dark hallways and dimly-lit streets with Charlie as he tries to figure out what really happened to Val and why the studio is covering up how she died. The film noir feel is shown through the dark coloring within each panel and the accent colors that pop on each page. The colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser, really bumps up the impact the story has on the reader by adding in color that boosts the intriguing, dark, and mysterious nature of this book. Brubaker and Phillips even add in real movie stars to the book, something that I noticed when I saw that a couple of the characters looked familiar! (There is also a cast of characters at the front of the graphic novel for you to refer back to if you become confused.) The Fade out: Vol 1: Act One is a wonderful read and I highly encourage you to check it out!