Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Every Day

I’m jealous of all the young people who get to grow up with David Levithan’s novels in their lives. He is a master of painting the lives of adolescents in all their permutations, and in Every Day, he does this in a way unlike anyone who has come before him. Known only as A, our hero is a soul who wakes up every day in the body of a different teenager. After almost six thousand days of living like this, it has become normal for him (her?) to spend each day in a different life, fitting himself into strangers’ lives temporarily. When he meets Rhiannon, he wants to stay in the same life for the first time and let someone know his secret.

Every Day is magical, built on a complex premise but with the most basic of morals: everyone wants to be seen and loved. I want to hand this book to all the teenagers I know, telling them, “David Levithan speaks the truth.” This book is full of simple lessons which are beautifully phrased and never condescending. I want to hang my classroom’s walls with phrases like, “Kindness connects to who you are, while niceness connects to how you want to be seen” and “…being best friends is always about the benefit of the doubt.”

One of Levithan’s many gifts (meaning his talent as a writer and also his present to the reader) is how he embraces sexuality in all its forms. Everyone is welcome in his world, as seen in his previous novels like Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility. One of A’s most affecting days is spent as Vic, biologically female and gendered male. Levithan writes, “It is an awful thing to be betrayed by your body. And it’s lonely, because you feel you can’t talk about it. You feel it’s something between you and the body. You feel it’s a battle you will never win…and yet you fight it day after day, and it wears you down. Even if you ignore it, the energy it takes to ignore it will exhaust you.” Fortunately, Vic has a loving relationship with Dawn, parents who care for him, and friends that see him for who he is. These few pages will go a long way for young readers who may be in the same position, or know someone who is.

There are some unanswered questions in Every Day, and that is to be expected. A doesn’t know how he became this way, so the reader doesn’t either. It doesn’t matter. This is the most creative love story I’ve ever read.

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