books and reading · reviews

Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

A wakes up in a different body every single day.  There’s no telling who it will be, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.  All A knows is that the person will be roughly the same age as A and will be in roughly the same geographic location as the body A went to sleep in the night before.  Each day, A navigates the world from a different perspective and tries hard not to make connections.  Then A meets Rhiannon, and everything changes.  What do you do when you meet the person you want to be with but you’re a different person every day?

David Levithan’s latest offering gives the reader plenty to think about.  Although there’s not much time spent explaining why A’s life is the way it is, the reader soon discovers that it doesn’t matter so much why A spends a each day in a different body as much as it does that it means A can never have a normal existence.  Levithan’s take on this is brilliant for myriad reasons.  Because A has no actual body, A has no set gender, race, or sexual orientation.  This allows the reader to think about what it means to love without the social constructs of these categories.

It’s an interesting, intriguing premise, and Levithan’s gorgeous prose draws the reader in and doesn’t let go until the end.  While some readers might struggle with how quickly A develops feelings for Rhiannon, this reader never felt like it was too rushed.  Everything about their intense feelings for one another felt authentic, heartbreaking, and all too real.  Rhiannon, like A, struggles with what her feelings mean for a person she can never truly see.

There are things here that don’t quite work.  Levithan’s novel is clearly approaching the topic of love from a perspective of tolerance and understanding, and yet he devotes an entire chapter to fat-shaming one of the bodies that A inhabits.  The fact that this happens later in the book and largely serves as a way to wedge some distance between A and Rhiannon is understandable, but Levithan’s insensitive handling of obesity clashes horrifically with his overall message.  This is going to alienate some readers and tarnish the overall reading experience, which is a shame, because there’s a lot here worth thinking about and enjoying.

A sad, thoughtful YA book with plenty of crossover appeal for adults.  Recommended.

Every Day by David Levithan. Knopf Books for  Young Readers: 2012. Library copy.

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