Every Day by David Levithan
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: sexuality, gender, love, relationships
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: Every day, A wakes up in someone else’s body, but never before desired the permanence of being in the same body until meeting Rhiannon.
Is loving someone related to a person’s external appearance,
or is it about their innermost being?
David Levithan explores the complexities of love in his new book, Every Day, in which “A” changes bodies like clockwork each night, waking up in someone else’s life and navigating through their day. One day A wakes up in the body of a boy named Justin. Never before had A wanted to take up residence in someone else’s body indefinitely. Justin and Rhiannon’s relationship is complicated and messy; he doesn’t treat her nearly as well as she deserves to be loved. Usually A ensures that the routines of the person’s life remained in tact and he tries to be as unobtrusive as possible, but upon meeting Rhiannon, A wants to give her a day she will never forget, a day Justin never would have. A wishes for a way to stay with her.
A has never told anyone about how he/she changes bodies. A realizes that no one would ever have memories of him. He decides to be honest with Rhiannon, and uses someone else’s body to navigate his way back to her day after day. Understandably, it’s difficult for her to comprehend — Is he the only person like this? Is he just a creeper?
A takes over the bodies of both boys and girls and has no sexual orientation, whether that be male or female. (As you can see above, I referred to A as a “he.” While I don’t feel like I specifically identified A with a gender while reading, I have found it difficult to explain the story without using pronouns.) Rhiannon finds it difficult to see beyond the bodies A inhabited each day to see the person inside. When A is a female, there is a definite struggle for Rhiannon; she knows the body was just a facade and that the soul inside is a remarkable person she connected with perfectly, but there are barriers she has to overcome.
Rhiannon questions how they would ever make it work as a couple. For someone so young, she finds it difficult to grasp what she and A’s long-term future would be like. This is where I feel Levithan shined the most in his writing; he poetically and beautifully describedswhat it is to fall in love with someone. There are complications that Rhiannon and A would face that we all take for granted:
How will they ever grow old together?
Will they ever be able to wake up in the morning together?
What if A wakes up in the body of someone thousands of miles away – how will they find their way back together?
Levithan takes our every day lives and spins them on their sides. As I read, I became more and more thankful for the simplicity of knowing my husband would be by my side every morning. While I mostly identified with A and the strong desire to be in a relationship, I certainly embraced the drawbacks Rhiannon combated. Levithan left no stone unturned in exploring A’s life and circumstances.
We’re taken through a gamut of different characters as A inhabits different bodies: an obese boy, a bitchy girl, a severely depressed girl, a gay boy. This was one of my most favorite experiences of reading Every Day. Levithan touches on so many different types of people, exploring the contrasting ups and downs of life. The beauty and magnificence of A’s character is in his/her ability to find the uniqueness and goodness of each person (with a few exceptions).
My heart absolutely broke over the impermanence of A’s life — how fleeting it was. A’s life is isolated and lonely. Until Rhiannon, there is no one to move through life with. In a very original way, Levithan had me thanking my lucky stars for the friends I can count on every day — the ones that know the boring, mundane rituals of my life — and my parents whom I often take for granted because they’re my rocks, always here.
I’m not quite sure why I waited to pick up Every Day, but I definitely suggest you move it to the top of your reading pile soon. I need a hard copy on my bookshelves so I can glance through some of my favorite passages when the fancy strikes. In fact, I know some of you love reading quotes from books; I am never a huge highlighter while I read, but I felt compelled to highlight so much of this book. I created an Every Day favorite quotes page where you can scope out some of my favorite lines.