Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Every Day

Every day by David Levithan

How do you describe a book that just absolutely defies true description?  Yeah, I don't know either.  "A" as we know him/her/it wakes up every morning in another human body, without ever knowing which or who.  A is always someone the same age as he/she is and doesn't travel very far.  A is used to this.  It's all that A knows.  Every day A will be someone new.  A does not have his/her own body and has no idea what happens to the personality it takes over.  The next morning A will be someone new and the person A was yesterday will have foggy recollections as to how he or she spent that day.

A has rules for the body swapping. It doesn't get involved. It doesn't make major life changes, it tries to lay low, get through the day and move on.  It's an awful lot of life and not much at the same time.  While A only has the ability to live life one day at a time and as a different person for each of those days, it has many new experiences.  However, A has learned that making big changes can really mess up the life of the person whose body A is in.  Are you following?  Am I making much sense?  It's a difficult concept.

Anyway, A is used to the life it leads, has made rules and gotten the hang of surviving each day and not messing things up too much for the host body.  But, A has no idea if it is the only one of its kind, or if there are others. Who could A possibly ask?  It knows how crazy it would sound to voice the questions, especially since the person who would reap the repercussions of asking wouldn't be A. So, life, as strange as it may be, goes on. A is in its teens, going from high school student to high school student within a range of a few hours travel from wherever the last host body was at changing time, trying to get by without making too many waves for its host.

Then, one day A meets Rhiannon and everything changes.  A wakes up in her boyfriend's body, and he's not a particularly nice guy and he doesn't treat her the way she should be treated.  A makes some changes, creates a real moment, one that Rhiannon will never have when Justin is back to being himself the next day.  Not only does A know this is against its self-imposed rules, A wants to find a way to keep seeing Rhiannon. Since A wakes up in the general vicinity of where ever the body its in before the change over, there are some days when A is near enough to get back to her.  But how does A convince Rhiannon that despite the different faces she sees over and over, it's the same A inside?

Okay, the premise is beyond implausible, which, I think, really works in its favor.  You can think about the ways it is or isn't believable, or realistic.  So, instead you focus on the characters and the huge 'what ifs' that go along with this.  Although, I have a tendency to think of A as a boy, he/she has no sexual identity.  A claims to have fallen for people twice, a boy once and Rhiannon.  Every day this person takes over the life and body of another stranger, never the same person twice and has to manage to eke out a life of its own, while not screwing up the host's life.  A also learns a lot about people and their relationships, has been involved, although extremely briefly, in healthy or abusive ones.  As a sociological character study, it would be fascinating if something like this could happen. Although, I don't think I would wish it on anyone.  How sad to be so anonymous and cut off from family.

Levithan gives such an amazing overview of teen life through the eyes of A, a captive in one body a day, and what happens when you stop floating through life and really take a stand to change your situation.  There's plenty of food for thought here.  I think my only issue with the book is a plot thread that seemed unnecessary and didn't really go anywhere.  This felt like the beginning of a series to me. You get to know the character, see where the story is headed, but there is something much bigger on the horizon.  In the case of Every Day, A doesn't cover its tracks well one night and doesn't manage to make it home before the changeover, so the boy he was the day before knows something weird is going on.  When he gets home, someone else's email account is open on his computer and he can't remember what happened to him the night before.  He kind of loses it and falls into the clutches of a minister, who only communicates with him online and  who convinces him that he's been possessed by the devil.  If this is another whatever A is,  then he's got answers that A could use. But, there were no answers for any of us.  If Levithan wanted to carry on and parse out the details on A and what it actually is, if there are more of them, why they exist, etc.  I'd gladly keep reading.

1 comment:

Judy Krueger said...

Excellent review. Made me want to read the book.