Review: Every Day

everyday-1Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy/Romance
David Levithan has edited several anthologies, including some for young people and the LGBT+ community. He has co-written several novels with Rachel Cohn, (including Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), and with other authors such as John Green, David Ozanich, and Chris Van Etten. Every Day came out in 2012, is preceded by e-novel Six Earlier Days, and has a companion novel titled Another Day

 

Content Guide

Spiritual Content: A sees the similarities in the faiths that the people whose lives he inhabits adhere to, and adopts a philosophy that all religions are basically the same. A does, however, have a positive view of the Christian church he attends. The main villain at one point in the story is a corrupt preacher who stirs up his fundamentalist followers with horror stories of people being inhabited by what he claims is the devil.
Violence: At one point, A wakes up in the body of a suicidal young girl, but she is never allowed to go through with killing herself.
Language/Crude Humor: The young people in this novel have rather profane vocabularies. Words such as sh** and d**n are very common, as well as cruel insults such as sl**, and other sexual and demeaning terms.
Sexual Content: The author of this novel is himself a part of the LGBT+ community, therefore, he portrays the lives of LGBT people in a favorable manner. There is one chapter in which A inhabits the body of a transgender person. On another occasion, A steps into the life of a homosexual male on the day of a pride parade. He and his boyfriend kiss. A and Rihannon also come close to having sex themselves on several occasions. Once, when A is in the body of a male, they take off their clothes, but go no further than that. Sex and sexuality is discussed openly throughout.
Drug/Alcohol Use: A wakes up in the body of a drug addict one morning, but this is portrayed as very harmful behavior. Alcohol is used by adults and young people throughout, but it is not usually condoned.
Other Negative Content: It may be upsetting to some that the character A does not have a set gender.
Positive Content: Throughout the book, A must make decisions that pit A’s personal comfort and pleasure against the lives and stability of others. Sometimes A slips up, but most of the time, A makes the right and sacrificial decision. For example, at one point, A and Rhiannon make the difficult decision to tell the father of a suicidal girl that she is considering killing herself. In doing so, they save the young woman’s life. Also, the theme of trying to understand others in order to best help them is very prominent.

Review

I’m going to start out by being honest with you. I’ve put off writing this review for a while now, because I wasn’t sure how to write it. This novel is pretty far outside the realm of things I usually read, review, and enjoy. I’m usually the one reviewing Star Trek tie-in novels, and classic science fiction. While Every Day has fantasy elements, it is a YA romance novel at its heart. Also, I have been a little concerned about how to mention some of the content in the book without alienating a good majority of the people reading this blog.
So, I thought the best way to discuss the content of this book was through the thematic filter of the book itself. 
Every Day is about understanding others, and in reading it, I was forced to try to understand the humanity of people in very different situations and lifestyles than my own.
A is a person, but not in the typical sense of the word. A has no set body. Instead, A inhabits the body of a new person everyday, and lives out a day in their lives. The only pattern seems to be that everyone A wakes up as is the same age as A, and lives in the same geographical region as the person A was last.
By the time A is sixteen, A has developed coping mechanisms for A’s unusual life — things like: don’t get attached, don’t get too involved, and try not to let anyone know that anything is out of the ordinary.everyday-bigger
The story begins when A wakes up in the body of Justin, a sixteen-year-old high school student living somewhere on the east coast of the United States. A prepares for an ordinary day of A’s life: trying to fit in, trying to understand, and trying to make others believe that everything is normal.
Then A meets Rhiannon, Justin’s girlfriend. A can tell from the way they interact, and the memories he can access from Justin, that Justin isn’t very kind to her. A sees something in Rhiannon — the beauty and strength of her personality — and is very attracted to her. A takes Rhiannon out to the beach, where A gets to know her better, all the while trying not to let on that someone other than Justin is interacting with her.
The next day, A is in a different body, but still can’t get over A’s feelings for Rhiannon. So A finds her again, and again the next day, and the next, and the next. If A can find any possible way to do so, A interrupts the life of the person A is inhabiting to go find Rhiannon.  A explains A’s life to her- the first time A has ever tried to do so to anyone else.
Unfortunately, A’s recklessness backfires, as one of the people A inhabited, Nathan Daldry, becomes aware of the fact that he was inhabited by another being. He believes it was the devil, and contacts an ill-intentioned reverend, who is stirring up his paranoid followers with stories about possession.
Now A must navigate the complications of loving someone who stays the same, while A changes everyday, as well as figuring out what to do about the mania that is building as a result of A’s actions.
The novel is in first person and also in present tense. Sometimes, in stories where I cannot relate to the main character, this style is annoying. However, A is by nature very relatable. It is easy to root for A and internalize A’s struggles.
The perspective of the character is absolutely fascinating. Levithan pits the mind against the body in ways I never would have thought of before. For example, one body A wakes up in is addicted to drugs, and A as a person must fight the cravings of the body in order to survive.
I think the most important aspect of this novel is the theme of trying to understand others before passing judgement on them. As a Christian, it would have been very easy for me to pass judgement on this book based on  the lifestyle choices of its author and many of its characters. A’s story disarmed me, though, because everyday A meets a new life and is forced to look past the exteriors, past the labels, and to see the person A is inhabiting as just that — a life, a person.
I do not recommend this book to you if you are sensitive to the things mentioned above in the content guide, or if you think it would cause you to stumble in your faith. I do recommend David Levithan’s Every Day to people who want to discerningly engage in a thought-provoking conversation on the nature of the human soul.

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Elora Powell

Elora Powell is a Bible college student from Portland, Oregon who spends her time analyzing, writing, and loving science fiction, and occasionally talking about herself in the third person.

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