Madeline Whittier is a teenage girl, but unlike other teenage girls, she doesn’t leave her house. The only humans she interacts with face to face are her mother and her nurse/care taker and the very rare in person visit from her tutor. Most of her communication is over the computer and the internet. Maddy has an incredibly rare disease that has left her with an immune system that is basically non-existent. She can’t step outside without risk of becoming sick and dying, and everyone that comes to see her or interact with her must go through a vigorous decontamination process.
However, as is the norm, things change when a boy comes into the picture. When a new family moves into the house next door, Maddy notices a boy around her age among them, and she watches him. He makes contact by writing on his window, located across from her bedroom, and this leads to them exchanging messenger info. Maddy has always been curious about the world but has tried to stay positive and focused on her schoolwork; now with Olly, she looks at things differently, keep secrets from her mom and gets distracted from school. In other words, she acts like a normal teen, and it worries her mother.
Eventually, Maddy decides she can’t keep living a half life and would rather have everything for a short time, than a fraction for a long time.
I had actually seen the movie before I read this novel, and it is an incredibly loyal film adaptation. I enjoyed the novel, but I am not sure it adds much for someone that has already seen the movie. However, if someone has only read the novel, they should absolutely watch the movie because the actors chosen to play the leads are completely charming, and a joy to watch (and they have both been in other big novel to movie adaptations, including The Hate U Give and Love, Simon/Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens).