Every Day, by David Levithan (2012)

Genre: Speculative Fiction
Interest Level: 15-20
David Levithan’s work is always remarkable. Like John Green (they co-authored Will Grayson, Will Grayson), he can truly articulate a teenager’s perspective on the world around us – the pain, the love, the anguish, the joy, the friendships, the desire for good, the nasty moments, the dreams, the questions, and the longing. All of it. And in Every Day, he has created a character that lingers in your mind long after the final page. For as long as s/he can remember, every day A wakes up in a different person’s body. For that day, until midnight, s/he adopts (some say kidnaps) the body of another person. The rules are vague, but essentially the person has to be the same chronological age as A, and roughly in the same area (typically up to four hours away from the last body). A has access to the person’s memories, so s/he can live this person’s life for a day without people noticing, but not feelings. And A is a thoughtful guest. A tries not to mess with anyone’s life. A avoids getting arrested, drunk, breaking up or getting grounded, failing tests or anything that will have a permanent impact. A sort of skims through life. Until A spends the day as Justin, and falls head over heels for Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. And A begins to break the rules, desperate for another moment, another day, with the girl s/he loves.
Obviously gender is a big issue here. Or rather, identity. What defines who we are? What is the essence of us? Of love? Levithan explores these questions, occasionally with a heavy hand (over 40 days, A deals with the body of a severely depressed girl, an obese boy, a babe, a couple of terrific boyfriends, a nasty bitch, a transgendered person, an illegal resident …). But most teen readers will be intrigued, rather than annoyed, by A’s calm acceptance of the many ways of being human. A is remarkably mature about this, but having known no other life, and having figured out the easiest way to play the strange hand life has dealt. A couple of quibbles. Beyond the obvious didactism, and ignoring of oh, the laws of logic, I did find the body-taking over premise a little creepy. Reminds me of a book by Lois Duncan, in which a character regularly leaves her body at night to explore the neighbourhood, and one day comes back to find someone else has taken her place. Levithan does explore this a bit, but in doing so makes the only significant adult character a malevolent one. No spoiler, but I also found A’s resolution for loving Rhiannon very disquieting. And despite my discomfort with the body-kidnapping, I did wish we’d spent a little more time getting to know more of the various lives A finds him/herself living in. Overall though, a novel that will definitely appeal to the teen audience it’s intended for.

More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13262783-every-day

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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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