Every Day (Every Day #1)
David Levithan, 2012
Every day, A wakes up in the body of someone else. He doesn't know how it happens, or why, only that it always has. He has no body of his own. He has his own personality, and his own mind, but every day he has to become someone else, relying on the body's memories to make it through the day with as little disruption to that person's life as possible. But one day, he wakes up in the body of Justin... and falls in love with Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. Now, for the first time, he faces a dilemma - does he tell Rhiannon what he is? And while he can disrupt the lives of the bodies he inhabits in order to see her again, the real question is: should he?
Note One: This review will contain spoilers. I find that I have a hard time articulating exactly what I like and don't like about this book without giving away some of the plot points.
Note Two: A (what our main character calls himself) claims to identify as neither a male nor a female, but throughout the book I got a distinctly male vibe from A, even when he was in a female body, so A will be identified by male pronouns in this review.
I find myself having a very hard time figuring out how to rate and review this book. There was a lot I loved about the book, so I'll start with that.
I loved the concept. I think that Levithan did an amazing job with showing what it would be like to wake up as a different person every day. Initially confusing, but at the same time enlightening. So much of who we are as people is due to our surroundings - who our family is, what city we live in, whether we're poor or well-off - but A gets to see the world from so many points of view that it's a fascinating concept to consider how that would create who he is as a person.
I loved the character of Rhiannon. She was, by far, the most believable and realistic character in the book. Flawed with low self-esteem, but kind and romantic. I like that she believed A when he told her his story, but I also like that she had trouble with it. Because as much as we like to believe that it's only what's on the inside that matters, Rhiannon's response to who A was on the outside was incredibly realistic. No matter how much you love who the person is on the inside, a person will be looked at differently if they look like the boy next door, or a slob, or Beyonce. I thought that Rhiannon's realistic outlook on the situation really grounded a story with an unnatural premise.
I had two big problems with this book, though. One was A. In general, I liked A. I thought that he had a really positive outlook on life, despite how horrible it must be to live like that. I felt really bad for him a lot of the time, and I liked how he was able to find someone in Rhiannon - someone he could tell his secret to and who could give him a tiny bit of permanence. But what really bothered me was that A had rules for himself, the big one being that while he was in a body he couldn't disrupt that person's life. Because he was only there for a day, and that person had to come back to it and deal with the consequences of whatever happened the day A was there. These were good rules... that A completely threw out the window once he met Rhiannon. I get it - he wanted to see her, to be near her. But to basically kidnap the body he was in to drive hours away to see her seemed completely out of character to who he was before he met Rhiannon. Keeping in mind that every body he in was around the age of sixteen - he only transferred into bodies the same age as he would have been normally - sneaking off to see her meant skipping school, lying to parents and friends, and on more than one occasion doing something that would result in the person getting grounded the next day. In one body, he skipped two exams in order to meet up with her, deciding to make it back for the body's big date with her girlfriend only after Rhiannon told him that he had to. No remorse for disturbing the person's life. The only time he did feel a little bit of remorse was with Nathan - who he had lie to his parents and sneak out of the house, only to not get back home in time (A always switched bodies at midnight) so he had to leave poor Nathan in his car on the side of the highway, to get picked up by police. And I got the feeling that A's response was less true remorse and more not liking to be thought of as the devil, once Nathan claimed demonic possession in the news the next day.
My second problem with this book, is that despite the love story and the interesting characters, this had no chance of being a happy book. When it ended, part of me thought that it was left open for a sequel, but then I wondered if I would want to read a sequel if it ever did come out. Because there is no way that this life is going to go well for A. He has two options. One: move on and never form any attachments with another person for the rest of his life. Two: Figure out a way to keep a body for more than a day and live a normal life... essentially killing off the actual person who's body it is. No happy ending there either, really. So it was kind of tough reading this book, knowing that it really had very little chance of ending well.
Despite my complaints, though, I really did find more to like about this book than I found to dislike about it. I really enjoy Levithan as an author - while I sometimes find his books to be a bit preachy on the subject of gender, he really is one of the better GLBT authors out there for teens. And he tends to add something very creative into his books to make them more than just a standard teen love story. I'm definitely glad I read this book, and it's one that will stick with me... I just wish that A had been a little less frustrating a character.
Note Three: I do realize that there is a sequel - Another Day - being released in August of this year. But it's more of a companion novel than a sequel - telling Every Day from the point of view of Rhiannon. I'm a little wary - I tend to associate this type of companion novel with Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey (neither of which I've read - I read the original Twilight, but not the retelling from Edward's point of view, and I haven't read any of the Fifty Shades books and don't plan to - but from what I understand they seem disturbing to me, basically reading a book from the point of view of a creepy stalker). However, since I loved the character of Rhiannon so much, and since she's not at all a creepy stalker, and since I got my hands on an ARC of Another Day, I will be reading it. Review to follow within the next few weeks.