My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
You are introduced to Maddie and her mother at the beginning of the book. Maddie has an illness that keeps her in her home. She cannot be exposed to anything that might cause her to die, which is everything. She thinks her life is great the way it’s going. Playing board games with her mother, reading, doing school work online, etc. That all changes when she meets ollie, she now wants to experience the real world. Ollie and she start IMing and getting to know each other.
As Ollie and she get to know each other, they want to meet. Carla Maddie’s nurse is against it at first, but it reluctant and let’s ollie come in, but with rules of no touching or contact of any kind. After they meet Maddie finds out that Ollie’s dad is abusive. Maddie watches through her window as his dad punches him in the stomach. Without thinking Maddie runs outside to check on him and make sure he is okay. Her mother freaks out that Maddie may have been exposed to something while outside. Her mother finds out about the meeting and fires
Carla. Maddie is on complete lockdown, no internet except school, no phone, nothing that would let her connect with Ollie. At this point in the story Maddie is sick of being trapped by these four walls, she wants to experience the world and live. One night she leaves her house and goes to Ollie’s to try and get him to run away with her to Hawaii for a few days. The only way she can convince Ollie to go is by lying to him. She tells him that she bought experimental pills, that will help keep her well while they are away. They Experience everything in Hawaii, food, the ocean, sex, etc. Towards the end of the trip, Maddie has an attack, everything sets her body into overdrive. She is rushed to the hospital and later goes home.
Once she gets home, she doesn’t want to risk getting sick again, so she cuts ollie out and ignores him. Maddie isn’t happy though, she still longs to be with Ollie, but with her sick, it will never work. Maddie is checking her emails when she gets an email from the doctor in Hawaii. The Doctor doesn’t think Maddie is sick, she thinks she only had a mild viral infection. Maddie searches her mother’s office, her mother is meticulous about keeping records for everything. Maddie finds her folder, only to find very little on her illness. She confronts her mother about it and confirms her suspicions that she may not be sick after all. See Maddie’s father and brother passed when Maddie was only a few months old. Her mother didn’t want to lose her too, so she has made up Maddie’s illness to keep from losing Maddie too.
Maddie finds a Doctor to test her and confirms that she is not sick at all, but has a really weak immune system. Maddie has not spoken to Ollie since the Hawaii trip. She messages him to find a surprise in a used bookstore. What he doesn’t know is Maddie is hiding, waiting for him. When he sees her, he has a smile on his face and they go off together.
This book was a fairly quick read for me. It had great writing and was easy to follow along. I thought midway through I had the ending right, that Maddie would end up dying on the trip and that would be the end. Boy was I wrong, the ending completely took me by surprise. I never thought about anything being wrong with the mother. That the death of her husband and son would make her lock her daughter away in her home for fear she would lose her too. This book shows so many things, that grief will make you do reckless things out of fear, that you should take a chance and experience the world. This was a fantastic read and will stay on my favorites shelf.