Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan
Author: David Levithan
Enjoyment Rating: ****
This book would be rated: PG-13 for language and discussions of sex
I've long been a fan of David Levithan's collaborative work, specifically Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, but I'd never read anything by him as a solo artist. So when I heard someone recommend the novel Every Day, I was eager to see him perform on his own. The protagonist of Every Day, A, wakes up every day in a different body. This has been happening as long as A can remember, probably all of his life (and I use the pronoun "his" here with a grain of salt-- A doesn't identify as male or female, and spends time as both males and females-- this is actually one of the larger issues of the novel-- what gender means, but it's easier for me to refer to the character by a pronoun, and although the audiobook reader was female, A leaned male to me, I guess). Anyway, if you watched as many reruns of Quantum Leap when you were procrastinating reading The Canterbury Tales in college as I did, you basically get the idea. Each morning, A is someone new. However, until this point in A's life (he's sixteen during the events in the novel), he, unlike Scott Bakula, has never tried to solve anyone else's problems. He lives lightly in the shoes of his bodies, trying not to mess anything up in their lives that can't be undone. Until one day when he wakes up in the body of a rather repulsive teenage boy, and finds himself completely in love with that boy's girlfriend, Rhiannon. After that one day, A does his best to stay as close as possible to Rhiannon, even if seeing her or being near her comes at the detriment of the people who's lives he's inhabiting.
It's a fascinating idea for a book, and I absolutely adored the first 2/3 of the story. I loved how A had to wrestle with doing what was best for himself versus doing what was best for the other people. I loved the interactions he had with Rhiannon, and watching her come to terms with what being with A meant for her. I even loved the resolution to the story. I wasn't as wild about the side story-- one of the people A inhabits gets in trouble with his parents for being where he wasn't supposed to be while A was in control of his body. His preacher brings out a media firestorm about demonic possession, and sets up events for future books. Although I loved the original love story, it seems resolved by the end of the novel, and I'm not sure I'm as interested in where Levithan seems prepped to take A in future stories (my guess is that this will be a, you guessed it, trilogy). I also felt that Levithan's own views came through a little too strongly in the novel. Nearly 1/3 of As bodies belonged to kids who were gay or transgender, and virtually all mentions of religion were negative. But the book is still thoroughly entertaining, I just wish the last third had lived up to the setup of the first part of the story.