Discussion questions prepared by Kelly Carey
IN NICOLA YOON’S YA NOVEL Everything, Everything, a teenage girl is trapped in her sterile room by a rare disease that makes her allergic to the world outside. Writers can use Yoon’s novel as a mentor text for exploring the use of I-messaging as dialogue, evaluating the characteristics that move a novel from MG to YA, and examining how character, plot, and pacing create tension.
Use the discussion questions on your own or with a book group to investigate Everything, Everything. As you consider each question, take note of how your own manuscripts apply Yoon’s methods.
These discussion questions were inspired by the KidLit Book Club meeting at The Writers’ Loft. We’d love to have you join us. Check out the Loft calendar to find out about our next meeting!
- How did the addition of drawings, sticky notes, text messages, and Maddy’s book reviews move the plot forward? Did these devices affect the pacing in a positive way? In a negative way? How did these methods contribute to character, plot, and readability? How could you use these methods in your YA or MG manuscript?
- What elements made this a YA book? Could the book be re-imagined as a MG novel? What would have to change to make this a MG novel?
- Yoon infused her MC with a wonderful sense of humor. How would the story have been different if the MC was dour/depressed and/or without a sense of humor? Was humor integral to the story?
- Maddy is 18 in the story. Did she act her age? Or seem younger? What would have happened to the structure of the story if Maddy had been 12? Or 16?
- Often in YA fiction, the adults are pushed off to the side to allow the younger characters to play central roles. Yoon gave Maddy’s mother, Carla, and the adults in Olly’s life central and controlling parts. How did Yoon use the adults in her novel without losing the YA focus? Could the adults have been pushed further to the edges?
- Writers are often told to give their MCs flaws—big ones. Did Yoon give Maddy and Olly flaws? Were they big enough? What additional flaws could Yoon have given to Maddy and Olly and how could those flaws have helped/hurt the story? For example, if Olly had been less charming? Or if Olly had found another love interest at school? How would that have changed the story? Consider how Yoon constructed her characters: What would you keep? What could have changed?
- Did Maddy’s adventure, her trip to Hawaii, match her limited view of the world? Did it need to be Hawaii? What would have happened if she went a few towns over? If she just ran away? Did the trip need to be extreme? How would the plot have played out if her trip had been shorter? Closer?
- How did Yoon add tension to the Hawaii trip? Were these elements effective? What else could she have done to increase tension in this part of the book?
- Maddy is a multi-racial character. Did this add to the novel? How?
- A great deal of the tension in the book comes from a fear of Maddy dying if she goes outside the “bubble” her mother has created for her. Did Yoon maintain this tension? How? What hints did Yoon give to foreshadow the ending? Would readers have figured it out at the right time? Too soon? Did the twist of Maddy actually getting sick in Hawaii work as a plot pivot point?
- Would you classify Yoon’s Everything, Everything as a plot-driven or a character-driven story? Was she a plotter? Or a pantser?
- Was the end satisfying? Maddy’s world has crumbled; did you need to know more about how she resolved her relationship with her mother? How could a different final scene have played out?
To learn more about Nicola Yoon, visit her website at http://www.nicolayoon.com/#welcome-new .