JOPLIN, Mo. —
In "Every Day"by David Levithan, "A"wakes up in a different person's body every day. A has no parents. A has no siblings. A has no gender. A has no constant beyond the constant of complete change every day.
A feels great responsibility towards each body borrowed. This inspires a set of very clear rules that drive A's life.
Basically, A tries to make as little impact on the borrowed life as possible. No breakups, no wild parties, nothing to stand out. Each day should be as unnoticeable as possible.
That all changes when A wakes up in Justin's body and falls in love with Justin's girlfriend Rhiannon.
Rhiannon becomes A's compass point. Everything revolves around her. Each morning A calculates how far away Rhiannon is and how best to get to her. And each day, A tries to figure out how they can be together amid the constant change.
Besides the main plotline of A's relationship with Rhiannon, Levithan weaves in some interesting side plots. When A wakes up in Nathan's body and realizes Rhiannon will be at a party near Nathan's house, A lies to Nathan's parents and goes to the party. This clearly breaks the rules, but A doesn't really think about that until it's too late. The aftermath of this one day reverberates through the rest of the book.
I'm still not quite sure how I feel about "Every Day,"but there are moments when the writing is so beautiful I want to read and re-read the passages. When the characters come through so honestly that it makes me ache. When I understand that the ideas being expressed are truths I've never been able to articulate before. When I am in awe of the magnificence I hold in my hands.
Then there are moments when I think I really don't like A very much. When I think, if there's another "'Hey,' I said. ÔHey,' she said"conversation I might scream! When I realize A has woken in the body of yet another teen trope -- druggie teen, teen with an overbearing mother, fat teen, depressed teen, gay teen, transgender teen, poor teen, immigrant teen -- and it's starting to feel a little like an "After School Special."(Even though Levithan handles them well and I'm glad they're included.) When my suspension of disbelief has been stretched just a hair too far.
Levithan is one of the powerhouse teen authors. I haven't read much of his stuff because I know he's good. I know I can wholeheartedly recommend his books to my teens. And even though I'm not completely sure how I feel about "Every Day,"it is no exception.
When I read the really good passages in "Every Day,"I am reminded of the beautiful writing that sparked my passion for reading. The writing that made me feel like I wasn't alone in the world (which is why I'm glad Levithan includes so many teen tropes). The writing that made me feel understood and accepted.
Levithan does that kind of writing so well that, even with the parts I wasn't so thrilled with, "Every Day"will be on my list of recommended reads until I can't talk about books anymore.
Cari Rerat is Teen Librarian for the Joplin Public Library.