Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?
So this review is going to be filled with spoilers for the twist that happens near the end of the book.
I did enjoy this book. I read it in one sitting when I was supposed to be going to sleep and I don’t do that for books I don’t like and enjoy. At first I thought it was sweet, a little cheesy and a little cliche, where boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, there are obstacles but then true love conquers all! I don’t mind those books and the obstacle in this book, Maddie’s allergies, are unique enough that I kept on reading, interested to find out how they were going to work around it.
And then they didn’t because it was all okay in the end. Now, I like happy endings like that, and I’m glad that Maddie isn’t sick and she gets to experience the world. It’s amazing and it explains why she was able to travel to Hawaii without having a reaction to anything. But the reveal that her mother made it up (Fabricated Illness it’s called) meant that the nature of the book changed. It was supposed to be a love story and it was, but the reveal forced the nature of the book on Maddie’s relationship with her mother and that was where the book fell short. It skipped over Maddie and her mother’s relationship after the reveal to go back to Maddie + Olly and I felt like the ending lost some of its impact because of that. Fabricated Illness is a interesting and tragic condition where the parent fakes their child being sick for various reasons, in this book it was due to the mum’s concern over losing Maddie like her husband and son and to have it as a sort of footnote to Maddie + Olly, well it made me resent the relationship a little when I had been previously fine with it before. If the reveal had happened and then, years down the line after Maddie and Olly had both been with other people, they met up again and tried a relationship as two experienced adults, I think I would have been happier with it.
Now, if the story had remained focused on Maddie + Olly, it would have been great to see Maddie’s condition being real and the two of them having to figure out how to deal with it. Maddie dealing with her desire to be normal and her jealousy of other girls who could be in the real world with Olly instead of her while Olly dealing with the fact he can’t touch his girlfriend and wants to show her everything but can’t. It would have been a different story. I’m not sure whether I would have liked it more, but I felt like it would be more interesting or at least different to what has been done before.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked the ending and I liked the characters. However I feel that the ending was a little weak, a little out of place with the rest of the book. Four stars!