Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Every Day by David Levithan

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Available August, 28, 2012

A has no friends. No parents. No family. No possessions. No home, even. Because every day, A wakes up in the body of a different person. Every morning, a different bed. A different room. A different house. A different life. A is able to access each person's memory, enough to be able to get through the day without parents, friends, and teachers realizing this is not their child, not their friend, not their student. Because it isn't. It's A. Inhabiting each person's body. Seeing the world through their eyes. Thinking with their brain. Speaking with their voice.
It's a lonely existence—until, one day, it isn't. A meets a girl named Rhiannon. And, in an instant, A falls for her, after a perfect day together. But when night falls, it's over. Because A can never be the same person twice. But yet, A can't stop thinking about her. She becomes A's reason for existing. So each day, in different bodies—of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, walks of life—A tries to get back to her. And convince her of their love. But can their love transcend such an obstacle?
Every Day has got to be one of the most mind-bending books I've read in a while. In describing it to a friend, the best I could come up with is that it's sort of like a Quantum Leap/The Time Traveler's Wife mash up. I was consumed with every detail of A's journey reading it in half a day.
Our initial introduction to A is when A inhabits Justin's body for the day and meets his girlfriend, Rhiannon. Normally A has a steadfast rule about not getting too involved in the "host bodies" lives. A's goal is to create as little disruption as possible to the individual's day-to-day activities. On this day upon meeting Rhiannon, A is instantly enamored. A's mind screams to keep her at a distance knowing the dangers involved in forming attachments. But A cannot fight the compulsion to be with her, to get to know her and to protect her. It's the pull towards her that for the first time in memory, grounds A, providing a center to return to, a home, a possible future to hope for.
However, A's very inconvenient tendency to shift from one body to the next, landing anywhere from a half hour to 4 hours away, provides a huge obstacle to overcome, not just geographically but physically also. This is where the book starts to become a major head-trip. Meeting A for the first time as Justin naturally sets the reader up to think of A as a boy. But A does inhabit girls bodies too. A’s attraction and feelings for Rhiannon do not lessen with that biological difference.  A does inhabit many different bodies throughout the course of the book – kids his age from various backgrounds, physiques and even different sexual preferences. It's disorienting but it packs a powerful punch because it challenges our views on love and sexuality. A easily looks past the gender limitations leaving the rest of us to catch up. It's not even a consideration. Obviously that’s easy being that A has never remained in a body for more than one day, therefore, has never had to identify completely with a specific gender. One of my favorite moments in the book is when A inhabits the body of a gay kid named Hugo. While at a gay-pride parade with his boyfriend, Austin, A makes a beautiful observation about love:
"In my experience, desire is desire, love is love. I have never fallen in love with a gender. I have fallen for individuals. I know this is hard for people to do, but I don't understand why it's so hard, when it's so obvious."
It's a powerful observation that just slams right into you and totally shifts your perspective. I had to remind myself to not pin A down to any gender but to instead see the well-intentioned beautiful soul A is. A’s astute understanding and connection to the people whose bodies are inhabited provide some of the most poignant moments in the book. A has this inherent desire to try and improve their lives through some small gesture. And sometimes A is a life saver. As A and a skeptical Rhiannon become closer, A’s yearning to stay and create a life with her becomes more pressing. A's willing to risk more and starts to deviate from the rules.
Unfortunately taking those risks is dangerous. A has to work extra hard to remain anonymous when one recent outing results in unwanted attention from a religious group who believes that the devil has been possessing bodies. But out of this mishap, could there possibly be some help for A from the unlikeliest of sources?

Simply put, Every Day is phenomenal! It has this amazing "wow" factor that just grabs hold of you and takes root inside of you. It's an unconventional love story so be prepared to be hopeful, uncomfortable, confused but mostly moved. What is most amazing is how through Every Day Levithan challenges us to look at love beyond the conventional norm, beyond the limitations of gender and labels.  A may be in a different body every day but A's humanity and moral fiber come through very clearly. I couldn’t help but fall for A and share in A's hope for a future with Rhiannon.
~ Bel
I'm not exaggerating when I say that Every Day grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. I was honestly moved by it for days - still am. And when I heard the beautiful "Trembling Hands" by the very awesome and very talented Temper Trap, I had the chills and I immediately thought of A and Rhiannon. It's forever their song to me.

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