Every Day by David Levithan
Released August 28, 2012
Purchased through Barnes & Noble
Rating: 3/5 stars
Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. When I think about it, it is almost as if I am thinking about two different books combined into one. One part of this book is a romance story focused around the two characters, A and Rhiannon, and the time they spend together. Meanwhile, the other part of this book is a philosophical commentary on the nature of human beings and love. I loved the commentary and hated the romance.
The love story felt completely forced to me. The two characters don’t really know much about each other, yet A assumes to know everything about Rhiannon and how she is feeling at any given moment. They claim to be in love, yet it feels like the most forced instal-love that I’ve ever read about. In addition, A assumes to know what is best for Rhiannon and, as a result, seems apt to making decisions on her behalf, especially when those decisions pertain to her love life. Overall, I could not for the life of me understand why the author kept pushing the idea that these two characters were somehow meant to be. Also, A felt clingy, annoying, and selfish at several points throughout the story. Which brings me to my next point. Some of the things I’ve stated actually make sense when given the context of A’s existence. A is essentially a genderless consciousness who floats in and out of people’s bodies. It makes perfect sense that A is clingy and selfish when they finally find someone who they love and who knows that they exist. That being said, these characteristics still managed to get on my nerves. Maybe because, at some points in the novel, A seems wise beyond their years. Meanwhile, at other points they seem like an whiny and slightly hormonal teenager.
Moving on from the romance, the parts of the novel that I personally enjoyed most were the ones where A is experiencing the lives of the people whose bodies they inhabit. There is something really beautiful about the way that Levithan is able to take the reader on this journey through so many perspectives and so many different lives. Every person who A lives through is experiencing their life in a way that is unique to them, and every person has a story to tell.
Disregarding the romance, this book felt very poignant and real because it really demonstrated the idea that people’s existences are not just anchored in themselves, but in the people around them. Oddly enough, this book reminds me of the question “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” In the same way, this book makes me ask this question: If a person exists but no one is aware of their existence, are they actually alive?
In many ways, Every Day reminds me of another book that I read- Written On the Body by Jeanette Winterson. Like Every Day, the narrator is genderless in the sense that the author never states their gender. In addition, it’s a love story/ philosophical commentary in which I loved the commentary and, again, hated the romance. And, come to think of it, the narrator also makes decisions on behalf of their lover in that story as well.
Overall, the fact that this book felt very raw and thought provoking was what kept me from giving it a lower rating. I think the premise behind it is genius, and the book could have been amazing if it were not for the annoying romance.