Every Day by David Levithan
In Every Day, David Levithan creatively reinvents the familiar saga of star-crossed romance. The relationship at the novel's core is predictably fraught with tension and angst, but a significant twist transforms the entire scenario: one of the participants isn't actually a physical person, but exists as an intangible entity that inhabits a different body each day.
The entity known as A has no gender or corporeal presence, nor can it control which body it will occupy next. There are several restrictions that govern A's movements, however. A is never in the same body twice, inhabits hosts that match A's own age, and lingers in a geographical area as long as there are eligible bodies for it to occupy.
On day 5994, A wakes up in the body of Justin, expecting a completely ordinary day filled with classes, friends, homework, and a hobby or two. But when A meets Rhiannon, Justin's girlfriend, all of its patterns and expectations are destabilized.
A has always tried to be a good guest. It can access vital information about the person it inhabits and uses this information to avoid messing up or complicating the host's life. A also tries to protect itself against inevitable heartbreak by not getting too attached to anyone it encounters while living a day in another's body. With Rhiannon, however, everything is different. Rather than simply going through the machinations that would maintain Justin's status quo, A allows itself to make a connection. The day A spends with Rhiannon echoes in its mind even after the next day brings a new body and a new life.
Over the course of Every Day, the reader follows A's fluid transitions from form to form. As a result, the novel is infused with intersubjective intensity. There are days when A lives as an average, unremarkable 16-year-old. On other days, A inhabits the bodies of those who are dealing with mental illness, family tragedy, and substance-abuse issues. A sees and experiences the world through a bully named Vanessa, a transgender teen named Vic, and a morbidly obese boy named Finn, just to name a few. Each day elucidates a new point of view, exposing the reader to the complexities daily life can encompass.
A is very resourceful when it comes to adapting to these diverse forms and situations, but it is still a distinct entity in its own right, complete with memories and a personality. Every Day raises some compelling questions about what exactly constitutes identity. Is it a person's physical presence or appearance? Is there something intangible that makes one person different from another? Or is identity the product of a collision between internal and external attributes? Throughout the novel, Levithan engages with these questions with intelligence and creativity.
The bond between A and Rhiannon doesn't dissolve as the days pass. For the first time, A tries to explain its body-jumping existence to another person. Rhiannon is skeptical, but open-minded. Since A inhabits bodies that reside in a limited geographical range, it is never too far from Rhiannon's Maryland home. They manage to meet on multiple occasions, so she can witness A's unstable physical properties. These encounters also allow her to recognize the things that remain constant: A's personality and devotion.
As Rhiannon and A try to negotiate the awkward boundaries of their relationship, A questions whether or not it might be possible to stay in one body for longer than a day. A must also ponder the ethical implications of a more permanent occupation. The result is a spectacular conclusion that makes a bold statement about what it really means to love someone.
Levithan tackles philosophical topics without succumbing to didacticism. He also knows how to explore romance without being mushy or trite. Every Day is a unique and inspiring novel that will captivate both teens and adults.