Every Day - David Levithan

Friday, April 03, 2015

Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers

"If I woke up in a different body every day - if you never knew what I was going to look like tomorrow - would you still love me?"

This is the question at the heart of the novel. In his 16th book, Levithan introduces us to A, a non-gender being who is thrust into a different body every day. As part of A's body-inhabiting, A has set up rules: A's not supposed to become attached to anyone, knowing that no one gets inhabited more than once. A also vows to respect each body while within it - A never deviates from the person's normal rhythm or routine. But when A meets Rhiannon on Day 5,994 of his life in the body of her boyfriend Justin, everything goes out the window.

Realizing that Justin ignores her and takes her for granted, A decides to act in every way the opposite of Justin. A convinces Rhiannon to ditch class, sing in the car, and spend the day at the ocean. A day that is memorable for them both.

A's love for Rhiannon is quickly-formed, strong, forceful, and eventually all-consuming to the point of obsession. Breaking his own rules A takes Nathan, his inhabited body, to a party A knows that Rhiannon will be at. Another day when A is a girl named Amy Tran, he visits Rhiannon at school and pretends that she will be transferring next semester.

All may seem necessary for A who will never be able to talk to Rhiannon as a normal person would but when A finally decides to tell Rhiannon the truth, A's obsession with her doesn't lessen, it intensifies. Rhiannon, to her credit, is suspicious in the beginning but then becomes hopeful that their relationship can somehow work itself out.

This is where the lessons start in. Since A is in a new body every day, Rhiannon has to get used to seeing A as male, female, short, tall, fat, & skinny. There are some facades she is more comfortable with even though she knows that A is within them all. Here, Levithan makes it a point to show each person, as an individual, with their own problems.

Some of the bodies play out as after-school-special PSAs. A inhabits someone with depression, someone who is obese, someone who is gay, and even an illegal immigrant. Yet, for all A's claims at learning valuable lessons from inhabiting different types of people, A is still a boring one-dimensional character and the reader is left unaffected by the hardships of those we viewed only momentarily.

While the novel is ultimately about the idea of loving the mind and soul of a person and how their appearance or gender plays into your ideal of them, the body-inhabiting should be a fascinating subplot adding a healthy amount of drama to the novel. Unfortunately we never find out what causes it, if there are others like A, or what the purpose is. To some, this may merely be superficial extras, things that do not matter in the grand scheme of things but if, in love, you do all that is in your power, wouldn't the first thing be to understand what you're up against? Instead of keeping the reader interested in the history of A, the body-inhabiting is used mainly to force the story forward. At about 320 pages the middle is nothing more than A shifting from body to body while always looking for a way to get to Rhiannon.

Levithan had all the perfect elements for an engaging, thought-provoking novel: love, acceptance, understanding, and a unique science fiction problem to overcome, however he missed the mark where it truly mattered and in reading it you feel short-changed, unaffected, and bored.

I give it one out of five cateyes.

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  1. Ah man. This one bums me out. I think David Levithan is a genius author. It sucks when an author disappoints.

  2. I've heard nothing but good things about him. I just wasn't happy with this book. Gonna give another one of his a shot.