- Page Count: 306
- Release Date: September 1, 2015
- My Rating: 1 star
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.
How… how is this story even acceptable? This is one of the most insulting books I’ve ever seen.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT btw.
I was super excited when I read the description and heard the hype, but this story ended up being one of the worst things I’ve ever read. I’m in a very similar “bubble girl” situation as the main character, who has to stay in her house because going outside would kill her. But, she actually doesn’t have any condition. It’s all a mistake/her life is a lie. The cop-out ending combined with the tagline of “the greatest risk is not taking one” felt like such a dismissal or slap in the face. A major message here is that your life is worth risking for the sake of being “normal.”
For those of us who are in her situation & allergic to the world at large, the greatest risk is taking one, IS in every single “ordinary” thing like breathing or eating. The book completely trivialized the whole situation to seem like some fear-driven hypochondriac condition. HOW is exploiting a serious health condition for the sake of some poorly developed YA romance remotely ok?! Some basic research and respect are NOT that difficult.
The lack of authenticity in her daily life while she believed she was sick was just insulting too. The main character was able to eat countless foods! Her whole condition was exploited and turned into an extremely poorly researched plot device. And I don’t care how great your air lock is on the door — if your mom goes in and out in the same clothing, that defeats the entire purpose! My poor parents spend at least 15 minutes daily changing their clothes and scrubbing down.
The diversity is the only thing this book has going for it, but that doesn’t even begin to excuse the rest of the story. I’m getting a lot of messages saying that this story wasn’t about her illness so that shouldn’t matter because it was about her relationship or self-discovery or whatever. Ok, no. I get that this story is not about her condition, but if you replace the word “illness” in your argument with “race,” “sexuality,” “weight,” or literally anything else, then those same people would be throwing a fit about bad rep as well.
Bad/lazy/flagrantly irresponsible rep is bad rep… no exceptions. This book and the mindset it encourages are problematic for everyone (even if you don’t have this illness) because by supporting it and excusing such a central part of the story, you’re saying who cares about that illness. And that’s what I’m hearing from readers who are championing this story as well… “the illness is just something for her character to overcome, not the actual story. It doesn’t matter if it’s realistic.” People in my situation are largely cast aside by the medical system & society at large and left without a voice. That feeling like nobody cares and we don’t matter is just reinforced by the author’s lack of any attempt at authenticity and the attitude of fans.
And this can’t be excused as simple ignorance because half of these problems could be fixed with a basic google search. I’m not sure if I’m more offended that the author just did not care what the actual illness was like (and decided to basically make up her own for shock value and give it the name of a real condition) or that she thought the general public was too unaware/uneducated to know. And if the reason for the inaccuracy is that the girl’s mom (who is a DOCTOR) knew absolutely nothing about the condition she insisted her daughter had, then this book’s poor plot and writing have even more issues.
The diversity aspect is awesome, but that doesn’t make this book ok.
Here are a few other books coming out this year I already read & loved that have diverse characters and aren’t the most offensive thing ever written:
– When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
– Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
– That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim
– A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
– The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
– The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
– The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee