An eloquent, thought-provoking "Day"

Jan. 6, 2014, 11:12 a.m. | By Zoe Johnson | 10 years, 4 months ago

Levithan challenges assumptions and prejudices in unique novel

It's a testament to David Levithan's writing ability that the premise of "Every Day" is not the best thing about it. With A, the genderless, precocious protagonist, as guide and narrator, Levithan asks deep, provocative questions about the nature of self while maintaining the bluntly emotional voice of a teenager trying to find their place in the world. The combination of beautiful writing, a fascinating premise and a realistic (as realistic as possible, anyway) plotline is the foundation of this extraordinary book.

Levithan's 'Every Day' challenges social norms and the power of love. Photo courtesy of Twicsy.

An explanation is in order. Every day, A wakes up in the body of a different person and lives their life for a day. A has always lived like this and has never had a body of their own (hence the gender-neutral pronouns—A identifies as neither male nor female). A has made peace with this, even made rules: Do not get attached. Do not get noticed. Do not interfere. Those rules serve A well until the day A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. After that, A resolves to discover if it's possible for someone who like A to be with a loved one, day in and day out.

It's a complicated premise and one that requires a certain amount of mental adjustment. However, after the initial confusion, "Every Day" is an easy read: it's just too interesting to put down. At the core, the book is a love story that poses important questions about the power of love and what obstacles are realistically surmountable. A and Rhiannon are in love and very much so, but that doesn't change the situation they face. Levithan's writing, alternatively poetic and frank, helps illustrate the simultaneous forces of intense love and basic reality.

A's experiences also provide valuable insight into the lives of very different people. For a day, A lives as a person with depression and drug addiction, extreme weight issues and mental trauma. One day, A is an exceptionally beautiful girl; another day, A is gender-atypical. In addition to being a love story, "Every Day" is about the assumptions, stereotypes, prejudices and truths built into us all. The descriptions of diverse peoples' lives are intriguing and encourage sympathy for and acceptance of all people, regardless of shape, size, color, identity or struggles.

At the very least, this book will make you deeply thankful that you wake up in the same body every day. However, it also poses existentialist questions: How do you fit into the world? What does a life mean? And, most importantly, stripped of physical trappings, who are you?

Tags: Blazers books entertainment Levithan

Zoe Johnson. Hey there! I'm Zoe, and my spirit animal is a lioness, which sums up my personality pretty well, actually--though I do try not rip people from limb to limb if I can help it. But hey, we've all got our growth areas, right? I really … More »

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