Author: David Levithan
Publication Date: 8/28/12
Publisher: Listening Library
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In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a "wise, wildly unique" love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.
Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.
With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.
Once upon a time, a high school-aged girl attempted to make lasagna for her three siblings and their parents. As both the youngest child and as someone with quite the reputation as a calamity machine of Amelia Bedelia proportions, she had a lot to prove. When her family came home and sat down to dinner, everyone remarked that the lasagna tasted...okay, but off. They asked her how she made it and she recounted the correct steps and then remarked that it took her a really long time to chop all that garlic. She used three cloves of garlic, right? Yes...well, what is a "clove" anyway? *blank stares* As it turns out, our poor lasagna-maker used three heads of garlic instead of three cloves. We ate that lasagna, and it tasted grosser with each bite, but we consumed it anyway. To me, Every Day is like eating a lasagna made with three heads of garlic, only the lasagna is a book and the garlic is agenda.
The first thing you should know before deciding whether to read this book is that it is wangsty contemporary romance masquerading as paranormal and/or science fiction. (it isn't science fiction at all.) You cannot go into the book expecting an explanation of any of the paranormal elements in the book because you won't find any. A (that's the character's name) wakes up in a new body every day. The bodies are always the same age as A and always within the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Why the temporal and geographical bounds? No one knows. Many readers seem wowed by the existential discussions A goes through about living in a new body every day: What is it like to be genderless? What is it like to have no family? What is like to have no idea where you came from and to not have a body of your own? All of these questions are fascinating but minimally explored. Instead, A spends a day in the body of a disaffected teenage boy, falls for the boy's girlfriend in that one day, and then spends every subsequent day screwing with the lives of the bodies A inhabits by trying to get back to Rhiannon. Additionally, A is upset that Rhiannon can't see the "person" behind the ever-changing body. I mean, shouldn't everybody be attracted to a person's soul rather than their outward appearance?
The idea behind this book is almost overwhelmingly exciting to me. I get giddy imagining the possibilities when every day is completely different and there are no repercussions for the main character. (it's quite another story for the bodies A is inhabiting) This premise has been done to some degree by Replay and Groundhog Day but the idea was tweaked a bit here. The thing is, in both of those cases, the characters experimented with doing fun and interesting things, learning skills, trying new things and A doesn't really do any of that. It is interesting that Levithan created a character who seems to have body swapped with a conscience for 16 years before it all went down the drain for a sudden infatuation. I truly cared about A's existential crisis. I could've read an entire book of just contemplation and reflection on each of the lives A encountered. Instead, the plot basically goes as follows:
A wakes up in a body.
We learn a few things about that person.
A figures out how close Rhiannon is.
A checks email to see if Rhiannon has written.*
A figures a way the two of them can meet up.
Conversation ensues to try to get Rhiannon's on board with dating A.
*The asterisk is necessary to me because there is subplot about religious fanatics coming after A for possessing teenagers. I was not a fan of this storyline overall--it felt forced in that for a large portion of the novel, the only mention of this plotline was random emails from one of the bodies A inhabited that felt contrary to what we knew of the character. Then the ending, which is helped along by this plotline, went off the rails. To me, and don't forget that I am just one reader (and also representing the minority opinion), the book's pacing was solid for about three-quarters and then it drank a few too many Red Bulls.
I'm all for diversity in YA (and all) fiction but there is a huge difference between subtly spreading your beliefs and preaching. I honestly don't know if I could be in love with someone if I had no clue what gender they would be the next day. I'd like to hope I could be accepting of that but I definitely wouldn't judge someone who couldn't. Not everyone is attracted to both genders and at times, it felt like A was treating Rhiannon as dense for not hopping right on that train. This idea definitely led to some interesting discussions with real-life friends of mine about hypothetical situations and how we would deal with x, y, and z. There was a lack of balance in the discussions in the book.
If you want to read review after glowing review of this book, go here. There are tons to choose from. When it comes down to it, this book just didn't work for me. I love the idea of it, and Levithan's writing style wasn't the problem. My issues were with the plot and the characters. I swapped back and forth between the audiobook and the ebook and I definitely prefer the ebook. The narrator does a good ambiguously-gendered voice for A but a lot of the other voices sounded too similar and Rhiannon's voice was a bit too Valley Girl-ish for me to take seriously as a drop-everything-and-obsess love interest.
If Levithan wrote a book entitled Sketches from a Body Jumper's Album in the style of Turgenev's Sketches from a Hunter's Album, I'm fairly positive it would be one of my favorite books. I would love to read day after day of body/life experiences. But as it is, I can't give Every Day more than 2.5/5 stars.