This was an amazing, terrific, wonderful and at times sad book. I am delighted that I found this and was able to read it. While the book was great, I just had a few things that I didn’t entirely liked, so that is the reason of the 4 1/2 stars. What I didn’t like will be told in the review.
I loved how the book was written. The chapters are mostly short (often only a few pages, sometimes only 1 or 2 pages), but that is not all, we also have small reviews of books Madeline reads, we have homework, we have drawings, we have IM conversations, we have emails, there is all kinds of things that make up this book, that tells us the story of Madeline. I really loved that this is the way it was done, I don’t think the story would have worked had it been one big chunk of text, now it made Madeline come alive, it made her story seem more real and more truthfully. It is also something that I hope I will see/find in more books. Though again, it works for some books, not for all of them. Some rely heavily on text, while others could use images or conversations.
The story is also terrific and it was highly interesting to see Madeline get out of her cocoon and see the world, to wake up and see that she might just want to live her life the way she wants it. She meets Olly, she finds out that there is more in live than being stuck in a home, being stuck forever because you might die. The illness and what it was to Madeline, what it meant to her life was really interesting. However, it was also quite predictable to see what will happen near the end. Around 1/4 to 1/2 in I just knew what would happen. And as the story unfolded before me, I just got more and more secure in my thinking. Of course, during one time I was a tiny bit worried, was I wrong? But then we hear why and what, and I started to nod, I was not wrong. I will discuss the ending in a spoiler tag as soon as I finished discussing the characters. I just need to vent a bit, and while I don’t tend to like to put spoiler stuff in my reviews (I want people to discover the book), I also need to talk about it. Tell my feelings on it. Since, I had a whole lot of those feelings. Good, bad and angry ones.
Madeline, a wonderful character, but at times I just wanted to shake her around. Shaking her around for feeling the way she did. Girl, it is normal to like someone, and to pay attention to those people than your parents. It is normal that when you are 18 years old you might want something different from a mom. Especially when one has a boy that she likes.
I loved her reviews, and I also loved that she devoured books, even with everything that happened she just loved books and kept reading them. She is a really smart girl, but I was also sad for her, sad that she has to live a life like this. Stuck in a home, stuck and knowing you may never see the outside. Knowing you will never be close to the one you love. Seeing the one you love have a bad situation at home, and knowing you can’t run outside and just help him out, hug him, hold him. That the only way you can help them is by chatting and mailing. Stuck knowing that anything might kill you. The fear of death is always around her. I just wanted to hug the girl and tell her things would be fine, things would be ok. She has found love, she has found someone to live for.
I only had one problem with her, but I will blame that on the fact that the girl never had friends or didn’t have any social contact, she is 18, but she felt often like she was 13 or 14. Sometimes 16, but never was she 18 for me. And that is also confusing, at times I had to remind myself that this girl was an adult, that she was old enough to do the stuff she did in the later parts of the book.
Olly, ah, the best character. I loved him so much, he was sweet, determined and he cares for Madeline in a way that I am sure he will be doing for life. He never gives up on her, not even when they can’t meet that much, not even when she is angry with him about stuff, not even when things go to hell. He sticks to her, and it was just adorable to see. I was at first worried he might dump her, or run away from her, but with that ending? I don’t worry. Not any more. Olly’s life isn’t all sunshine and flowers, his life is also pretty bleh. Not as bad as Madeline’s but with a dad who abuses him, his mother and his sister when he is drunk (and maybe even when not that), it is a harsh life. There are enough times that we watch through Madeline’s eyes when hell breaks lose next door. Poor Olly, he tried so hard to protect his mom and his sister, trying to show his mom that this isn’t a good life, and that they should truly leave. But as we know for stories from newspapers, research stuff, actually going away from someone, even if they abuse you, is hard. It is a big decision to make and not an easy one.
Carla, I really liked her, and how she loved Madeline. She is truly a wonderful person, and near the end she was the one thing that kept Madeline sane and safe.
Now for the ending. I will put this under spoiler tags, so only read this if you read the book. Only read this if you are sure you want to know what happens. I just want to get this ending out of my system, and I want to discuss what I felt. So here goes. Last warning. Don’t read unless you read the book!!!!!!
That ending, as I said, I saw it coming. When Madeline pops outside for a bit, I expected her to instantly explode/implode, but she doesn’t. When Olly kisses and touches her, and she doesn’t die? There are a lot of hints, and while I understand why they were added, I just got annoyed with waiting for the big reveal that would tell me I was right. And then when Olly and Madeline go to Hawaii (it was a terribly sad, but also beautiful part of the book) and she had to go to hospital, I was like, “Hm????”. But then later it is explained why, and I was like: “Oh, yes, of course that is what will happen when you hold your kid captive for 18 years of their life without any chance to go out and get sick or get immune to stuff.” And then I felt a terrible sadness. Sadness for Madeline, it was quite a shock for her to find out that her mom lied to her, that her whole childhood was one big lie. That she wasn’t sick, that the reason why she got sick in Hawaii was only because she has the immune system of an infant. Since she never left the house, she couldn’t build up anything. I already didn’t like the mom, she was too controlling, too creepy and a bit too vague about things. But after the reveal? Instead of feeling sorry I just wanted to shake her and scream at her. Ruining Madeline’s life, because she was afraid she might lose her too. Was afraid Madeline might also die/leave/etc. And I can imagine that she might be afraid, but shutting your kid in a house, pretending that she will die should she do anything out of the ordinary? Never once telling the truth. I hated her. You don’t do that to your kid. I hope she will get therapy, and a lot of it, because she will need it. Maybe Madeline will forgive her mom one day, though I think it will be a long long time before that is going to happen. I am a pretty forgiving person, but if I would find out that 18 years of my life were a lie. That I won’t die instantly, that I could go outside, that my mom kept me away from stuff on purpose, I would probably need many years for me to finally place it all and forgive her.
I also wonder why Carla never had any suspicions, why she never really checked if things were truly all right, why she never had the need to research. I can imagine, she is no doctor, but I believe she has wondered about things before, why didn’t she go to someone who is specialized in that kind of disease? It just make me wonder, would Madeline have been saved sooner? Maybe she could have a life, maybe could have had a childhood.
The ending and what Madeline did there? I cried a bit. I was so worried that Olly might have moved on (though I had the feeling he wouldn’t, his love for Madeline is truly real), but in the end he was just delighted to see her, and I hope they will be truly happy together. I had kind of hoped for an epilogue, something that will tell us the situation a bit later in Madeline’s life, like a few months, or years later. I am so curious about these 2 characters and I want to know how it goes with Madeline. Did she run into any problems? How is her health? Are they still happy? Where do they live? I got quite a few questions.
All in all though, this book was a magical, great read and I would really highly recommend it to everyone looking for a realistic and fantastic book with great characters.