Suffering from “bubble baby disease,” Madeline has lived for 18 years in a sterile, sealed house with her physician mother.
Madeline is a bright, witty young woman who makes the best of life with a compromised immune system by playing games with her mother, studying with online tutors, and writing brief spoiler book reviews on Tumblr. Her life is turned upside down when a troubled new family moves in next door and she sees Olly for the first time. Olly, a white boy “with a pale honey tan” and parcours moves, wants to meet her, but Madeline’s mother turns him away. With the help of an indestructible Bundt cake, Olly perseveres until he gets her email address. Madeline—half Japanese, half African-American—chronicles her efforts to get to know Olly as she considers risking everything to be with him. She confides to her wise and understanding nurse, Carla, the truth she keeps from her overprotective mother: that it’s painfully hard to be a teenager with a crush, yearning to venture outside and experience the world. Spot art by the author’s husband, occasional lists in Madeline’s handwriting, emails, and instant-messaging transcripts add a lively dimension to Madeline’s quirky character. In her debut, Jamaican-American Yoon gives readers complex characters and rich dialogue that ranges from humorous to philosophical.
This heartwarming story transcends the ordinary by exploring the hopes, dreams, and inherent risks of love in all of its forms. (Fiction. 12-17)