Sunday, September 2, 2012

Book Review: EVERY DAY

Every DayThe premise of David Levithan's new novel Every Day is both complicated and daring.  A is a genderless, bodiless soul who wakes up every day in a different host that is the same age.  For sixteen years, A has spent an entire day experiencing the exciting, painful, and mundane events that fill the host body's life, and at midnight A's soul is ripped out of one person and placed in another.  One day A may be a popular white girl and the next a homosexual Hispanic boy.  Unable to understand why this happens, A has learned to accept this reality without anger or depression. Following a self-created code of conduct, A respects the inhabited body and tries to live a normal day.

All that changes on Day 5994 when A is in Justin's body and spends a day with Justin's girlfriend Rhiannon.  Rhiannon suggests that they skip school and go to the beach. A doesn't realize until meeting her that A has longed for a lasting human connection.  Their perfect day results in A falling in love, though Rhiannon believes she is experiencing an exceptional day with her normally insensitive boyfriend.  Every day afterwards, A kidnaps the host body and tries to get back to Rhiannon.  A takes a big risk in telling Rhiannon the truth and trying to convince her that their love is real. 

Slowly Rhiannon reciprocates A's feelings, but their relationship is not easy.  She finds it difficult to accept whatever package A inhabits.  Try as she might, she does not have the same level of passion when A is a female or an obese male.  Also, she can never introduce A to her friends or family.  Some days it takes hours for A and Rhiannon to travel to see each other, which disrupts both Rhiannon's and the host body's life. Throughout the novel, A and Rhiannon struggle with finding a way that they can be together permanently.

Where Leviathan's novel succeeds most is in its portrayal of the complex lives of modern teenagers. A experiences the physical pain of drug addiction, the ugliness of depression, and the realities of poverty.  A sees how race, gender, socio-economics, and family dynamics play into a person's well-being.  Unfortunately, showing teenage life is not Leviathan's intention.  The novel is meant to examine the role gender and appearance play in love.  This is a romance novel, but the love between A and Rhiannon is forced, uncomfortable, and ultimately unbelievable. Despite this major short-fall, Every Day is a fascinating, page-turning read.  Teens will gravitate to the unique premise and find satisfaction with the conclusion.

3 out of 5 stars
Grades 9 and up

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