I really enjoyed Every Day. It was kind of a Time Traveler’s Wife for a younger audience. The concept—that the main character wakes up every day in a different person’s body and has to live their life for one day—is amazing.
The story is about how the main character, A, falls in love for the first time. Or is it the only time? When A first meets Rhiannon, I found A’s sudden love for her a bit unconvincing. Especially the reason why A likes her, that Rhiannon is sadly and subserviently in love with a boyfriend who doesn’t treat her right. It reminded me of that creepy pop song that goes “You don’t know you’re beautiful, that’s what makes you beautiful.” Ugh. But as the book progressed I began to believe that they were two soulmates.
The plot makes you think about who a person truly is at their essence, and also creates a powerful conflict. On the one hand, I wanted Rhiannon and A to be together. And the storyline mostly leads you to the conclusion that bodies and genders are irrelevant and true love conquers all. But on the other hand, A and Rhiannon have no future because A doesn’t know what body A will wake up in tomorrow, or where, or what the circumstances will be. So A and Rhiannon never know if they will see each other the next day, and Rhiannon can never introduce A to her family or friends or have a full relationship with A. They seemed genuinely doomed. So I really was interested to see how this would resolve. I also liked the question of whether A was the only person in the world like this or whether there were others.
My favorite scene was a scene at a library where A and Rhiannon talk about the Shel Silverstein book The Giving Tree. It gave Rhiannon a chance not to be a codependent lost girl, and it was funny and sweet. I was also mildly amused that David Levithan made half of A’s favorite books ones published by Scholastic (where Levithan is an editor.)
I liked the way the story presented gender and how the main character A didn’t have one/had two. I also liked that one of the people that A embodied for a day was transgender, and that the character had a happy life and a nice girlfriend. I did notice there was a strong emphasis on how that character had the wrong body, wrong wrongitty wrong, and his body was a betrayal. This is the narrative I always read in YA about characters who are transgender and I want to know if this is the only one on offer because it’s really the only one there is, or if trapped-in-a-hatefully-wrong-body is just the simplest, most accessible story.
David Levithan has a sort of spare style and in the past I’ve enjoyed his collaborative books the most because they seemed more balanced and full to me. This time, I felt his style really suited the plot and made the novel more haunting. On the other hand, some of his quick character descriptions seem a bit stereotyped or taking the lazy way out. Like, A wakes up as an Asian girl who plays the clarinet, and that’s supposed to tell you everything you need to know about her. The chapter where this came across in the most horrifying way was the chapter where A was Finn, a boy who weighs over 300 pounds. Finn gets the least sympathetic treatment of anyone you can possibly imagine. We are told that Finn got that way through negligence, laziness, and carelessness, and that Finn may have humanity somewhere deep down but A can’t find it. Wow. I loathed this chapter beyond belief. I know I’m a broken record and I always say the same thing in reviews, but I really hate the idea that a young person will pick up a novel and end up feeling bad about him or herself. Don’t be a hater while you’re writing a YA novel.
I liked the ending, which I won’t describe. I also enjoyed the acknowledgments page. I’m coming clean about the fact that this is often one of the most fascinating parts of a book for me. What a delightful writer’s life Levithan leads, as portrayed in these acknowledgments! He talks over his ideas with Billy Merrell, Suzanne Collins, and John Green—a dream team! When on a book tour, he has a driver—exquisite! And I love that Bill Clegg is his agent, since I just finished his two memoirs. I may start doing reviews focused solely on the acknowledgments page.