Every Day by David Levithan

day(Reading Challenge: Best Fiction for Young Adults)

First book for the Reading Challenge! Not the first book I started, though. I have Terry Pratchett’s Dodger out and had read a few pages, but then I picked up Every Day and it was a more immediately compelling book. I just love the concept for this book: a person experiences his/her life by waking up each day in another human’s body.  I was trying to explain the book to my husband and kids and first of all, it’s hard to not use any pronouns. The person calls itself A, so that’s what I’ll do, too.  I also thought of A as simply a soul.  The kids immediately wanted to know how he was born and who his parents were. Good questions kids! Where did A come from? A tells us this has been his (yes, I’m going to use a male pronoun) whole life and he does remember being little and when he realized not everyone experienced this. That they got to see the same parents the next day.

This book was a good combination of a)all the questions you might have about this concept, both factual and philosophical, such as where did A come from? is A a soul? can A die? how separate is our body from our soul and what impact does it have on our lives? and so on.
b)the “fun” idea of exploring a different body every few pages and showing how A can really experience so much more than we ever could-life as someone beautiful, abused, blind, loving, funny, popular, outcast, gay, straight, etc.
c)the love story between A and Rhiannon.

Rhiannon is the first person A has ever told his secret too.  He first meets her when he is in her boyfriend Justin’s body.  They have a wonderful day together. And although A has always tried hard not to stray from the body’s usual behavior (I really loved reading how A accesses information and fits in), it’s love at first sight with Rhiannon and he can’t bring himself to be the usual jerk that Justin is.  The next day when he discovers he is not too far from Rhiannon he drives back to see her again.  Once Rhiannon believes A and begins to see A in various bodies there is a whole new set of philosophical and practical questions-how could they keep seeing each other? What end could they possibly have?  I was really impressed with how Levithan managed to satisfactorily wrap up the story.

The only thing that I didn’t think was perfect was the thread of loving a person for who they are, not their gender. It was, frankly, a bit heavy-handed. A just can’t get over that the body of a girl or boy would make a difference to Rhiannon and brings it up many times. And yet, the one time A is in the body of an obese person that is repulsive to him, he understands why Rhiannon doesn’t want to kiss him.  I felt that in a story that emphasizes the message of a soul vs a body it was a pretty insensitive response to the overweight body and wanted to cry “pot calling kettle black!”

That was just one sting in a really great story with a really interesting concept. I love to think about things like this and it was a fun story for that. A great start to the reading challenge!

 

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