With the intent on giving an honest review of the book, there will be spoilers. So don’t click if you don’t want spoilers. This is my honest opinion on the book. TL;DR (no spoilers) I liked it, a lot. But it wasn’t what I was expecting and the ending left me wanting more.
Do you want more? Click below!
With the movie coming out I of course had to read the book first, the books are always better. This is a book at first glance about a young woman (she’s just turned 18 with in the first few chapters of the book.) with SCID. Aka the bubble baby disease. This disease was featured on an episode of Grey’s anatomy as well. Its a very rare disease, and very misunderstood. Which is why the book starts out with explaining what the disease is and why everything is white, filtered, hypo allergenic etc.
So its just Maddy, her mother- who is a doctor, and Maddy’s nurse Clara. Maddy is not allowed to go outside, all of her meals are altered to be hypoallergenic bland and white. Vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, white bean soup with chicken broth instead of a the full french meal. Because this is all Maddy knows she’s happy.
She spends time with her mother, movie nights, Honor dictionary, phonetic scrabble, etc. She’s home schooled via Skype and everything in her world is bubble wrapped. Until she hears a moving van next door. This has happened before when she was younger, and she fell into a depression because she couldn’t go outside to play with the other children.
That’s where she sees Olly for the first time. She memorizes their schedules, she observes Olly, Kara, and their parents. She wonders what its like outside her white room. Kara and Olly’s Mother send over a bunt cake which Maddy’s mother declines with no reason as to why but thanks them anyway.
That bunt cake is not the butt of many jokes as Olly tries to destroy an undestroyable cake. He takes a marker and writes his email on the window so they can email. This of course leads to “What the hell is in that bunt cake recipe.”
Their relationship begins to grow over IM and soon Maddy knows that its not enough to watch from afar. Clara who’s always had her suspicions (I’ll get to that later.) allows Olly in for visits a few times. The rules are no touching, he must be decontaminated etc.
But that’s not enough. Maddy sees Olly get hit by his drunken abusive father. She runs out of the house and asks him if he’s ok. She’s falling in love with the boy next door. Her mother freaks out and fires Clara. She interviews nurses for a little over a week before hiring Nurse Evil who is really strict, and so not Clara.
Maddy who is now old enough for a credit card, gets one and decides she’s running away. So she and Olly run away to the only place she’s ever wanted to go: the beach. After her mothers given a gift of an old family photo finally revealing that her mother had lost not only her husband but also a son to a truck driving accident were the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Its a picture of the entire family in Hawaii. Her mother tells her that this was a few months before her Father and brother died, and she became very ill for the first time. Maddy decides to go to Hawaii again to experience the beach and living. So she buys her and Olly plan tickets and they stop by Clara’s before the 7 am flight.
Clara’s visit is short but sweet where Clara reminds her to live.
They get to Hawaii and everything is wonderful.. until its not. Maddy does get very ill and she’s taken home, and her mother is proven right. Clara has come back to work for them and Maddy breaks it off with Olly because she realizes that love can kill and that she’s too sick to ever leave the house… until she gets an e-mail from the doctor that treated her saying that he’s gone over her blood work over and over, every scan, every test concludes that she does not have SCID and has never had it and has requested her to have a second even third opinion.
She takes these papers to her mother who denies it and says that it is obviously a mistake since this doctor doesn’t know her full medical history. But her mother’s reaction is very strange and telling to Maddy, so she shows the printed e-mail to Clara who then says that she always thought that her mother had never gotten over losing her husband and son in the car crash and she “wasn’t right.”
So Clara helped her get a second opinion. Maddy doesn’t have SCID. Maddy is a victim of Munchhausen biproxy. Her mother was making her believe that she was sick and believed that her daughter was sick to keep her “safe”.
She kept saying to Maddy “I have to protect you.” over and over again. Maddy left home to find Olly and to really begin her life.
I give this book 4 stars because the ending was literally Olly picking up her book “The Little Prince” and saying “I found your book.” and smiling at her. It was such a good and detailed book that the ending I felt was cut short. I wanted more.
It also doesn’t say if she’s ever forgiven her mother for controlling so much of her life, or if she ever got help for her very serious psychiatric condition. You don’t even find out she’s got a brother until over half way through the book. There’s literally nothing in the house to remember them. She literally lives just for her mother. Not only does this put Maddy in danger because she doesn’t have an immune system like a normal 18 year old, but that of an infant who’s just learning to fight off disease, but they don’t know if she’s going to be sicker than normal people etc.
I hope there is more to Maddy’s story and that there will be a second book.