Sunday, September 29, 2013

Review: David Levithan, Every Day

This book is whackadoodle in the absolute best of ways. The premise is so far out there that I'm actually surprised this book has sold as well as it has amongst the YA crowd. In essence: the story follows an individual called A who wakes up every morning in a different body. A spends the day in that body, and then the next day whoever is the rightful owner of the body returns to their life and continues on with no memory or awareness that they were "possessed" the day before, while A moves onto the next body. What's especially crazy is that it could be a male body or it could be a female body, so A has no real gender identity. It's always someone around A's age (16-17ish) and within an hour or two drive at most of where A was the day before. A's main priority is to slide under the radar so that no one will suspect that anything is amiss with the person whom A has "possessed" for the day. Like many YA books, a lot of the book takes place in various high school classes, and A has to cope with many of the usual YA challenges like fitting in, dealing with isolation, trying to avoid being bullied, etc.

Things heat up quickly one day when A happens to fall in love with Rhiannon, the girlfriend of the boy A has possessed for that day, who is, incidentally, a complete oaf. A has gotten really skilled over the years at not getting attached to his daily surroundings. Otherwise, it's too painful to wake up the next day in a new life knowing the life s/he was in yesterday is dead and gone and utterly unretrievable. But falling for Rhiannon brings up all the old anxiety about the fact that tomorrow A will wake up in a different life. So A begins to break all of A's rules and finds ways to stay in touch with Rhiannon long after A has left the body of the oafish boyfriend. Rhiannon gradually begins to return A's affections, but the obstacles to engaging in any sort of stable relationship with a person who wakes up the next morning in a different body/gender/location seem insurmountable. Eventually, A learns that there may be a "cure" to his/her condition, but one that comes with a terrible price.

I will not give anything more away about the plot, but I will tell you that this book really moved me. Barf, I hate to admit it when something moves me. But this did! Without giving away the ending, I can tell you this was heartbreaking the entire way through. I really felt connected to the character of A, even though A's existence (waking up in a different body every day) is so bizarre and unrelatable on the surface. A is always an outsider, and you see A longing desperately for the type of family life and human connection that so many of the bodies s/he inhabits get to enjoy, even while studiously attempting to avoid emotional entanglement with any of the people who flitter in and out of A's life. A's motto is "do no harm" - or, essentially, leave things exactly as they were before you hijacked someone's life for the day. What a sad existence! Levithan does a brilliant job of conveying the heartbreak of living this way, while also presenting a book that is funny and strangely uplifting at the same time.

The only thing I didn't love about the book was Rhiannon. I feel like I am starting to sound like a broken record in these reviews, but I really just didn't grasp what it was about Rhiannon that inspired such a wild transformation in A. She seems like a pretty average girl, and A's immediate, overwhelming attraction to her was the only aspect of A's character (aside from the whole waking up in a new body every day thing) that I couldn't really relate to. This definitely didn't come close to ruining the book for me though--it was just a mild annoyance.

4.5 stars!

5 comments:

  1. I loved, loved, loved EVERY DAY! I love David Levithan and just about anything he spits out, I swear I could probably fangirl over his shopping lists, this guy writes such amazing stories in such gorgeous, raw and beautifully phrased way. If you enjoyed this one, try Will Grayson, Will Grayson (which he co-wrote with John Green) and Two Boys Kissing - both amazing, too :) Thanks for a great review!

    Evie @Bookish

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