Given the popularity of Holes, it might be a good idea to check out other characters from the Holes universe. This is a delightful tale of friendship, with a little love, suspense and adventure, and it just makes a nice read, with well-drawn characters.
Death and dying, weird illnesses, previously unheard-of diseases are currently pretty important topics in young adult literature, and young people seem to enjoy the frisson of reading about them, partly because they believe they are not really affected by them (yet).
Madeline (Maddy) Whittier is allergic to everything; in fact, she has a very rare disease known as SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, a rare but very real condition) which means she cannot leave her home and has never been outside in all her seventeen years of life. Looking after her (and hovering above her) is her mother with the help of Nurse Carla.
One day Olly moves into the neighbouring house, and Maddy falls in love with him. He, in turn, is fascinated by the mystery girl who only communicates with him by mail and who can occasionally be seen at the window. Making time for Olly means taking time away from Mum, and Maddy’s mother is clearly not happy with that change. One day Carla lets Olly in, and when Maddy’s mum finds out about that (and more), she is furious. All these years of being care and precautions seem to be jeopardized. And then one incident follows the other up to the surprise ending (quite a twist there), which I will let you read for yourselves, of course.
So if at the beginning you are thinking: oh no, not another one of those girl sick and dying-novels, you have another think coming. Yoon writes a captivating story changing narrative devices with great dexterity: notes, short passages, emails, lengthy descriptive passages all make for an entertaining and fast read. A great debut novel.