My goodness this book filled me with so many good feels. It’s rare that a book gives me so much joy. More often than not when I like things I smile. This book had me grinning to the story of Olly, Maddy, and her mother.
In short, the book is about a girl named Maddy who has SCID and as a result is pretty much stuck in her house. Then a boy moves next door and they beginning communicating with each other. We then follow her journey as Maddy tries to transition from a life where she is just alive to a life where she’s actually living.
For that reason alone, seeing Maddy want to embrace life more felt visceral. So often you get characters embrace life, but it’s not until you see it from the perspective of someone who can’t that really propels you to want to do so yourself. Despite being locked away she still longed to have more than just this little life in her clean house interacting only with her mother and her nurse and occasionally a teacher.
Let’s be honest a large portion of this book is the romance. We are seeing how Maddy and Olly slowly get together and how their relationship evolves. I really enjoyed it. Despite the condensed timeline and the fact that we seemingly saw all their interactions, I still felt like this didn’t feel rushed. There was a sense of hesitation paired with eagerness that made it feel genuine. As the romance built, I felt myself swept away more and more with the story.
I want to take a brief moment to talk about Olly. I really appreciated how he was handled. He felt like a real guy and with that came family baggage. I like that instead of just building up Olly, they also shined a light on his family because in many ways that shaped him. Olly was one of those guys that was light and caring. He had just a touch of trouble to him, but was really just a good guy. His character seemed like a great pair for Maddy.
An event near the end proved to be particularly tragic and I found myself upset. There were seeds of what was to come peppered throughout the story so when it finally happened, I wasn’t shocked, but it was still a major gut punch. I felt for all the characters that were involved in the situation. I couldn’t blame anyone in the situation. I do wish that the fallout from this situation was dealt with more.
This book does suffer from what I find many contemporary books suffer from. It ends too quickly with so many strings left open. It makes me want another book to find out what happens later. In fact, I think a follow up book set a number of years later would be brilliant for the next step in this saga. Either way, this ending did give me far more closure than most, but it still left it so open that all the possiblities are still running through my head.
One of the characters featured heavily in this book is Carla, Maddy’s nurse. There are a number of events that transpire that change their dynamic, but through it all I loved this tough love but caring woman. She was a nice infusion into this novel as she was a stark contrast to Maddy’s actual mother. Through the novel you can clearly see how Carla has influenced Maddy in her life. She may not be her mother, but there is a sense of care and love that is there that only people with extremely close relationships have. It isn’t a dynamic that I feel I see often in books and I enjoyed that we got to see that here. Sometimes your family isn’t blood, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are still family.
Ultimately, I really loved the book. It was cute and sweet, but also knew how to deliver some of the weighter emotional elements. That said even when it does get sad, you are quickly brought up because the of the joy that seems to surround Maddy’s life. I really loved this book.