David Levithan‘s latest, Every Day, is an interesting exploration of identity.

The 16 year old main character, A, has awoken every day in a different body.  At first, it seemed normal, and only around age 5-6 did the strangeness of A’s life without continuity begin to be bothersome.  After accepting the reality of this existence, A developed coping mechanisms to be able to determine the basic details of the life and body of the day and be able to function without causing too much chaos or change in the host body’s life.   Since A has been a boy and a girl, every race and almost every “type” (drug addict, A student, jock, geek, obese, anorexic, gay, straight, etc.), A doesn’t self identify with any one label or definition. But on the day when A wakes up as Justin, a good looking but grouchy, rather self-centered guy, things change.  A feels an intense connection to Rhiannon, Justin’s shy, self-effacing girlfriend.  So A breaks his own #1 rule and decides to really get to know Rhiannon and in the course of a magical day at ocean, A, hosted by Justin, falls in love with a girl.

But of course, A’s life is too complicated to be truly in love, since the next day, A is hours away in the body of Leslie Wong.  Instead of going back to the rule of: “do nothing out of the ordinary for the host”, A immediately begins to come up with a way to connect with Rhiannon again.  And so it goes, day after day, some host bodies/lives being more pliable to A’s need to get to Rhiannon and others not as easy.  Eventually, A decides to take the one big chance and tell Rhiannon the truth, believing that if she could truly understand the situation, they would be able to make a relationship work and A could have something  that never before seemed possible: a stable identity and a chance at some kind of permanence.  But the risk and leap that Rhiannon is being asked to make may be more than she can handle.

The premise behind this book is interesting – a separate consciousness that takes over a host and tries to live out its life in a way that doesn’t eclipse the host and yet can provide some kind of meaning for the “invader.”  Levithan never answers who or what A is and how A came to exist or how this body jumping even happens, although at the end there is a hint that something sinister is (or could be) behind A’s predicament.  A is a thoughtful character who’s spent years ruminating on the human condition – identity, family, friends, love, hate, and every other emotion and circumstance – and the thousands of different lives have given a perspective both of universality of the human condition and the precious uniqueness of the individual’s own experience.  Sometimes it seems that Levithan’s editorial voice overrides A’s, in that the pronouncements and comments A makes seem a little too “knowing and world-wise” even for A, but Levithan can be forgiven for inserting these few “teaching moments” into the story, since Every Day does an otherwise brilliant job of getting readers to think about both the simple and the profound in the every day of our own lives.

  • Posted by Cori

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