Can we start with the cover art? Because wow. It is illustrated by the folks over at Good Wives and Warriors, and you should click on over to their website if you’re at all interested in detailed, vibrant art. Honestly, the cover art is so intricate that it’s breathtaking. I seriously want a poster of this book cover to hang on my wall and stare at all the time.
Anyone got the hookup? Major heart eyes for the jacket design that encases and displays this book to the world.
I read this book cover to cover in an estimated 4 hours. Those five hours were not spread out over time. I read this book in two sittings. It would have taken me a lot longer if this was a text-heavy book, but Yoon incorporates instant messaging, drawings from Maddy’s journal, and renderings of official documents into her short chapters. Short chapters are such a trap for me. I’ll see the end of the chapter and keep thinking “I totally have time for one more!” And then I look back three hours later, and that one more chapter has turned into . . . well, most of the book. Short chapters keep me turning the pages, as does the use of mixed media, so Everything, Everything was perfect for quick reading.
Maddy – the protagonist – has a voice that is so compelling and full of life. She hasn’t been Outside her house since she was a baby, but she spends lots of time learning about what life on the Outside is like. The thing about learning the world’s history? Most of the events that are in the textbooks probably happened Outside of Maddy’s house.
The whole book had a fairy tale atmosphere. You know, it’s kind of like the cozy cottage secluded in the woods. You know the person inside – the dwarves, long-lost princesses, and/or enchanted woodland creatures – is about to have their world rocked. Maddy, our book’s princess(-like figure) feels safe in her home, and has a mother who cares for her very much – what more could she need? Things get complicated when Ollie moves in and for the first time Maddy begins to keep secrets from her mother. And just in case you were wondering, even though fairy tales are not exactly known for subverting sexist character tropes, Maddy is no damsel-in-distress here. Well, maybe she kinda is at the beginning . . . but the reader soon finds that she is a stubbornly independent and courageous young woman. 50 brownie points if you can guess which fairy tale this book turns into before you get half way through!
I’ll admit, I had guessed what fairy tale Maddy’s story was turning into, but the end was still shocking for me. I knew the basic outline that the plot should follow, but Nicola Yoon plays with that formula and opens it up for contemplation. You finish the book wondering who (or what) the bad guy is in Everything, Everything.
Maddy was extremely relatable to me because first of all, she loves books, and will defend their importance in the world if someone challenges it. Books are how she knows anything about Outside. They’re how she escapes the confines of her medical prison. Some mentioned more than once: The Little Prince,and Jane Eyre. I find this so fascinating. One of the questions that crossed my mind as I was reading and had these titles in the back of my brain was whether Maddy was this story’s Jane Eyre or if she was destined to become the madwoman in the attic. I’m not going to give away the ending, but comparing Maddy’s story to that of Jane Eyre is extremely thought provoking.
Everything, Everything is serious business. It deals with topics such as child abuse, emotional manipulation, and mental disorders, so if any of those might be triggers for you, read with caution. However, it’s also a teen romance. I kept thinking back to the days when I used to read Sarah Dessen voraciously and frequently. The love story is so genuine to teenage romances. Especially when Maddy is scrutinizing Ollie’s IMs to try to squeeze out every ounce of meaning. The mysterious “Hey.” turns out to have a multitude of possible interpretations.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that a lot of people will like Everything, Everything a lot. You should Definitely, Definitely read this book!
This is an excerpt. Click here for the full review.
I have mixed feelings about Boy, Snow, Bird. But I do have to say that my opinion sways heavily toward the positive! I’ve never read anything by Oyeyemi before, though Mr Fox has been on my book depository wishlist for a while now, and I found her writing style to mesh really well with my tastes.
That’s a little bit of a weird thing to say, and I realize that. I’ll say it in a different way that might be more relatable: this book definitely had the potential to become one of my favorites. I really thought that’s where it was heading – Oyeyemi really knows how to write.
Boy, Snow, Bird is, among other things, a historical narrative that deeply explores race, discrimination, and passing. These elements also help solidify the book’s connections to the Snow White fairy tale. The beginning of the book is narrated by a blonde white woman named Boy, so these elements of the plot are introduced with a light emphasis through her, but they become a huge focus later on. I thought this was an interesting way to draw in the common reader, who may not have picked up this book if it were marketed differently.
Through Boy, the reader develops empathy and then when her life gets tangled in racial discourse, there’s more outrage than would have been there with a POC narrator.
Title: Through the Woods
Author: Emily Carroll
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pub date: July 5, 2014
Synopsis: ‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’
Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.
Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…
Oh, Emily Carroll. Where should I begin? The 5 short stories that make up this collection are downright creepy. They’re Freudian Uncanny. They’re disturbing. Tim Burton unfiltered, if he were a woman. Think Corpse Bride but with more blood. That being said, I really enjoyed reading them. Sometimes feeling a shiver down your spine is exactly the right reaction.
In which I take a look at Alix Christie's article on The Millions and talk about my love for books