YA Realistic Fiction…Everything, Everything; Whippoorwill


Yoon, Nicola. Everything, Everything. New York: Delacorte Press, 2015. 978-0553496642. 320 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

This wonderful novel by newcomer Nicola Yoon will leave readers thinking about the things we take advantage of in our lives, and how love can, in some situations, drive us to perform astonishing, or horrifying, acts. Ever since she can remember, Maddy has lived in fear of the outside; she has a rare disease that causes her to be allergic to basically everything. Her mother, a medical doctor, has created a safe haven in their home and taken every precaution to keep Maddy healthy and happy. Maddy accepts her fate stoically (what chance has she had to do otherwise?). But then, Olly moves in next door, and slowly her understanding of who she is and what she values most in the world begins to unravel. Through instant messaging, she becomes friends with Olly. Eventually, after repeated begging, Maddy’s nurse lets them meet in person. The usual boy/girl romance begins to unfold, but Yoon creates tension with the constant reminder of Maddy’s disease and her inability to be in the outside world. Maddy’s mother, who was always Maddy’s best friend and confidant, begins to wonder what Maddy is doing with her time and what her relationship with Olly truly is. Olly’s own difficult relationship with his father brings their relationship to a head, and Maddy must decide what she values most in life: living in fear or embracing her dreams? THOUGHTS: The plot can be a bit hard to fathom at times, but the characters are likeable and interesting, and Maddy’s discovery of the outside world replicates the happy time of watching a young child experience something new. Take a chance on experiencing this novel, and you won’t be disappointed!

Realistic Fiction     Lindsey Myers, Shady Side Academy Senior School

While this is a truly wonderful story, the plot does have a few holes that the reader must patch up with a healthy amount of willing suspension of disbelief. This, though, is reminiscent of John Corey Whaley’s recent novel, Noggin. The authors do not want the science to get in the way of telling a story, and if students are willing to take this into account they will enjoy the character study. Other reviews have compared the relationship of Maddy and Olly to Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, but I have to say that I enjoyed Eleanor and Park much better. While both couples are overcoming obstacles (Eleanor and her difficult home life cause much strife in that relationship), Eleanor and Park’s story is one that could happen anywhere and in any town. Maddy and Olly have a fantastical basis for their relationship, and this can sometimes make the reader feel that the relationship is not as authentic as it could be. Yet, I did enjoy the slight tension that Maddy’s disease caused, even if I did not always believe in the plot. I definitely look forward to reading more of Yoon’s novels in the future!


Monninger, Joseph. Whippoorwill. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 978-0-544-53123-9. 275 p. $17.99. Gr. 7 and up.

In New Hampshire, “Whippoorwill” families are the ones with muddy yards full of rusted junk and trash. In the yard of Clair Taylor’s neighbors, the Stewarts, one of those items is a dog named Wally. He spends days and nights chained to a pole, treated with indifference at best, and with no clue of how to interact with humans. Clair takes an interest in Wally and begins training him with the methods of Father Jasper, founder of the novel’s Maine Academy for Dogs. In the process, Clair forms an unexpected friendship with Danny Stewart, who seems almost as hungry for affection as Wally. The story begins at a slow but steady pace as Clair gets to know Wally and Danny and begins to reveal her own pain over the death of her mother three years earlier. Midway through the book, an act of violence flips Clair’s relationship with Danny on its head and endangers her claim to the eminently lovable Wally. It’s tough to put a new spin on the “good dog in a bad situation” story, but Joseph Monninger has done it! His austere writing style is absolutely perfect for the novel’s plotline and for the voice of Claire, a refreshingly unselfconscious protagonist in YA literature. THOUGHTS: Themes of loyalty and friendship lend Whippoorwill a timeless quality, though the true hero of the story is human kindness. After reading the last page you will want to give any animal (or underdog, for that matter) in your life the extra compassion that they deserve. And just try to resist that cover image!

Realistic Fiction            Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School