Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan
Author: David Levithan
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
Plot Summary from Goodreads:
In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a "wise, wildly unique" love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.
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 heard a lot of excitement about this book in my online book club, because there are a lot of women there that ADORE all things Levithan. I've only read one other of his books (The Lover's Dictionary), and while I liked it, I wouldn't say it blew me away. However, the premise of this book sounded interesting, so I gave it a shot.
And...I am so glad that I did. Based on the description, I thought this was just going to be a YA romance with a twist. But honestly, I wasn't thinking it through enough. I mean, dwell on it for a minute: what it would be like to wake up as a different person every day. You wouldn't identify as male or female. You would embody the definition of "walking in someone else's shoes"--you would understand what it is like to be fat, thin, mean, kind, lazy, athletic, pregnant, a nerd, an addict, a musician...the list goes on. And yes--you wouldn't make attachments or fall in love. At least not easily. But what an amazing viewpoint to consider. Big kudos to Levithan for creating this captivating and unique POV.
This perspective makes the book much more than just a romance. A and Rhiannon's relationship is extremely complex, and I enjoyed watching them navigate it. And there are twists and turns of the OMG! variety (I was not expecting that in a romance-based book). It is certainly a YA novel--the details of A's existence are rather simplistic (ie. he always inhabits a body in Maryland, until he ends up in a body that moves to another part of the country...obviously a very convenient situation for this story). And there are many messages in the book about peer pressure, LGBTQ issues, drugs, etc. that are not hidden by any means...meant to speak without confusion to the YA audience. However, I think I'm only gripey about that as an adult reading a YA novel--a young adult would probably find it more thought-provoking and less "okay okay, I get it." It's appropriately written for the genre. And the LGBTQ themes were especially well-handled and thoughtfully conveyed.
(While we're talking about the genre--is it just me, or is it way easier to cut class in high school these days than it was 11 years ago? Seriously, these kids were constantly popping in and out of school like it was NBD. And apparently every 16-year-old has enough cash to go out to dinner/get coffee/go shopping whenever the mood strikes. YA novels are so enlightening sometimes.)
The ending got a thumbs-up from me. This did not get anywhere close to a cheesy teenage romance. The conclusion was equal parts surprising, fitting, and beautiful, and it leaves you with just enough questions so that you don't feel like the author tied it up too tight.
Overall, this was both a quick read, and an engaging one. I appreciate Levithan's creativity in shaping A's life story. I also like the fact that he isn't afraid to hit touchy issues head-on in a YA novel. You just have to be prepared for the directness in how those issues are handled, with far less nuance than an adult novel. Even so, I'd recommend this to any high school kid I know, and probably most of their parents.