Friday, June 7, 2013
Every Day: A review
Info: Knopf Books for Young Readers, copyright 2012, 324 pages
A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Boy meets girl...sort of...doesn't technically have a body...it's complicated.
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.
Every day our protagonist A wakes up in the body of a different individual. Sometimes a boy. Sometimes a girl. But every day is different and short. Unlike the teenagers A interacts with on a daily business, he will never have a lasting relationship, never understand the power of a supportive parent, never know tomorrow. Day after day, A has found a normal. Wake up, find out as much as you can about your host, and do as little damage as possible. The routine works, that is, until A wakes up in the body of Justin and has the fortune to meet Rihannon. One day with Rihannon and everything changes. Today is not enough. A is desperate for tomorrow.
The protagonist in the story is in a unique position. Every decision A makes directly affects his host body. He understands that with great power comes great responsibility and could very easily mess with people's lives. For one day he is in control of a body, and he could choose to say and do things that would directly affect the host for the rest of his or her life. But he doesn't. He cherishes life and understands the power of choice. While I struggled with liking the book, it was A's decency, his ability to try, kept me reading and rooting for him.
The Not So Awesome
I can't help feeling that the story is borderline didactic. It's very obvious what point Levithan is trying to get across through A's relationship with Rihannon. It's the same point repeated in several of his novels. What is love? Is love purely attraction, or can true love transcend gender and aesthetics and be a truly emotional and intellectual connection. Can Rihannon look past the body of the day and truly love A for who he (or she?) is?
And what exactly is A? Maybe that's the point. That we don't need to know what A is, but we must merely accept his (or her?) inner self. I think that becomes void with the introduction of Reverend Poole. He brings an otherness to the story, a potential for evil that muddles the mystery of A.
While I admire A for his moral direction and Rihannon for genuinely trying to love A in all of his (or her) forms, the characters felt distant and the message too idealistic. We are still our bodies. We are still our gender. These two things go hand in hand with our personalities and our souls. It would be nice if we could, each and every one of us, look past the exterior to love what's inside. But we don't. And A proves that every time he calls Rihannon beautiful and every time he inhabits an individual who is less than perfect. We are human. We judge.
Is there an sequel planned? I hope so. I didn't love the book. I'm not even sure I liked the book. But I would reserve judgement to discover what A learns when he takes his poor host Katie to some unknown location and the meaning behind Reverend Pool's last words "You're only going to find me later! All the others have!"
Favorite Quote: “If there's one thing I've learned, it's this: We all want everything to be okay. We don't even wish so much for fantastic or marvelous or outstanding. We will happily settle for okay, because most of the time, okay is enough.”
Similar Titles: The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green