Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a "wise, wildly unique" love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

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.
My Review:
I heard a lot of excitement about this book in my online book club, because there are a lot of women there that ADORE all things Levithan.  I've only read one other of his books (The Lover's Dictionary), and while I liked it, I wouldn't say it blew me away.  However, the premise of this book sounded interesting, so I gave it a shot.

And...I am so glad that I did.  Based on the description, I thought this was just going to be a YA romance with a twist.  But honestly, I wasn't thinking it through enough.  I mean, dwell on it for a minute: what it would be like to wake up as a different person every day.  You wouldn't identify as male or female.  You would embody the definition of "walking in someone else's shoes"--you would understand what it is like to be fat, thin, mean, kind, lazy, athletic, pregnant, a nerd, an addict, a musician...the list goes on.  And yes--you wouldn't make attachments or fall in love.  At least not easily.  But what an amazing viewpoint to consider.  Big kudos to Levithan for creating this captivating and unique POV.

This perspective makes the book much more than just a romance.  A and Rhiannon's relationship is extremely complex, and I enjoyed watching them navigate it.  And there are twists and turns of the OMG! variety (I was not expecting that in a romance-based book).  It is certainly a YA novel--the details of A's existence are rather simplistic (ie. he always inhabits a body in Maryland, until he ends up in a body that moves to another part of the country...obviously a very convenient situation for this story).  And there are many messages in the book about peer pressure, LGBTQ issues, drugs, etc. that are not hidden by any means...meant to speak without confusion to the YA audience.  However, I think I'm only gripey about that as an adult reading a YA novel--a young adult would probably find it more thought-provoking and less "okay okay, I get it."  It's appropriately written for the genre.  And the LGBTQ themes were especially well-handled and thoughtfully conveyed.

(While we're talking about the genre--is it just me, or is it way easier to cut class in high school these days than it was 11 years ago?  Seriously, these kids were constantly popping in and out of school like it was NBD.  And apparently every 16-year-old has enough cash to go out to dinner/get coffee/go shopping whenever the mood strikes.  YA novels are so enlightening sometimes.)

The ending got a thumbs-up from me.  This did not get anywhere close to a cheesy teenage romance.  The conclusion was equal parts surprising, fitting, and beautiful, and it leaves you with just enough questions so that you don't feel like the author tied it up too tight.

Overall, this was both a quick read, and an engaging one.  I appreciate Levithan's creativity in shaping A's life story.  I also like the fact that he isn't afraid to hit touchy issues head-on in a YA novel.  You just have to be prepared for the directness in how those issues are handled, with far less nuance than an adult novel.  Even so, I'd recommend this to any high school kid I know, and probably most of their parents.

14 comments:

  1. I've never done it myself but it really is easy to cut class in my school. My classmates here also through too much money thrown around while I barely have less than a dollar (my fault for choosing a private school). But for some reason, I still find scenes like these in books unbelievable.

    Although I'm not sure about how I feel about A falling in love with someone else's girlfriend, I'll pick "Every Day" up. Now it's just a matter of seeing it in my bookstore.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the inside info on the class-cutting ;-)

    Interesting point you make about A falling for Justin's girlfriend. I wonder if others have been turned off from the book for that reason? I will say that Levithan makes it a bit more complicated than that though.

    Reply
  3. I love the premise for Every Day--so clever! I'm a huge YA reader--always on the hunt for books to recommend to the students--and the synopsis and your review are intriguing. I think I've heard of this author--dint he have a pretty popular novel? Is he the Wallflowers guy?

    As for cutting classes, prevention of just that thing takes up a good part of my day. The kids jokingly (I think!) refer to me as Warden. :)

    Reply
  4. Ack! Can you repair my typo? Didn't not dint. :(

    Reply
  5. What a challenge to write a point-of-view like that. And an opportunity -- it sounds like he did a lot with it.

    Joy's Book Blog

    Reply
  6. Great review, definitely want to read this one even more now =) I did wonder how he could pull of developing a character who isn't really a character as such (if that makes sense...), but looks like he managed it!

    Reply
  7. booklineandsinker, I think Wallflower is by Stephen Chbosky (sp?). Levithan's other big-name books I can think of are Will Grayson Will Grayson, Boy Meets Boy, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. (None of which I've read, by the way...I need to get on that!)

    Reply
  8. I've never read Levithan- I obviously should! Thanks for a thoughtful review; this sounds like a book my daughter would adore.

    Reply
  9. Nice review! I think I'll have to be bumping this one up on my TBR list!

    Reply
  10. Kelly - yep, you're right, Wallflower is Stephen Chbosky =)

    Reply
  11. I already finished the book and I liked it! It's kind of deep and philosophical at the same time. I wonder what's A's gender. I just assume A's a he because of Rhiannon. And speaking of skipping school, it didn't cross my mind to do it. High school is no exception because our school was strict. As for college, I think I didn't attend some class sessions because I found the class unnecessary during that time.

    Reply
  12. The gender question was interesting. I had to keep reminding myself throughout the novel that he/she didn't really have one, though it's easy to fall into calling A a he the entire time. I love how his POV made me question the usual ways we see the world.

    Reply
  13. Although the author does a good job of keeping A genderless, I could not help thinking of A and referring to A as a "he" and "him" but I think that's because of my own straight orientation. The interesting thing is that other people could just as easily see A as a she because of their own POV. I'm curious as to whether a reader could keep A genderless in their own mind.

    Reply
  14. Christie, I agree. I don't think I've read any reviews in which the reader was able to see A as genderless the entire time.

    Reply

 
Imagination Designs