Friday, April 26, 2013

Have you ever allowed yourself to walk in another person’s shoes?  The thought provoking idea of seeing the world through another person’s eyes may seem romantic and appealing, but what happens when your life solely consists of living in a strangers shoes for a mere 24 hours until your soul becomes hosted by a new body? What happens when you are forced to belong to a life that is not your own?

David Levithan’s EveryDay characterizes a “being” named A.  A is genderless, nameless, and essentially bodiless. A’s entire life consists of hosting a strangers body for a day. He/she wakes up in a new body everyday and must conform to their way of life by blending in with their friends, family, and life for 24 hours. A, who has no control over his/her condition, tires his/her best not to interfere with the lives of others.

A’s life is intriguing throughout the novel. Levithan embodies stereotypes of people, and allows A to become a part of their life to demonstrate how others must live and feel on a daily basis. For instance, A is moved from body to body, and she/he gets to experience all different lifestyles. A never connects to anyone’s life or another person for that matter. From the first pages of the novel, A explains the several bodies she/he belonged to in the past few days, and tries to let go of the details of their personal lives for fear that he/she will lose of his/her true identity. A seems to struggled to hold on to who she/he really is because he/she does not have a body of his/her own. Through A’s journey, A discusses the struggles of daily life. One day A is in the body of a straight man either being a jock, or nerd, the sister of a troubled teenage boy, a drug addict, in the body of a girl who wants to kill herself, and in the body of a transgender. A’s able to see their lives, and understand who they are. A’s usual mission is to fly under the radar, assuming the life of the body she/he inhabits for the day. However, this all changes when A wakes up as Justin.

When A wakes up in Justin’s body one morning, she/he meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon. Immediately, A has some feelings for her because he/she doesn’t like the way Justin views her or makes her feel. Instead, A breaks his/her own rules, and mixes his/her own personal feelings with the life of Justin. A falls deeply in love with A and even kisses her, but can only hold the body of Justin for 24 hours until he/she is transferred to another.

A, unfortunately, must leave Rhiannon when he/she hosts new bodies. Unable to part from Rhiannon, A interferes with others’ lives and tries to find Rhiannon. When A wakes up as Amy Tran, a girl who lives a town over from Rhiannon’s, A takes advantage of the opportunity, and drives to meet Rhiannon at her school. Rhiannon does not recognize A in the new body, nor does A reveal him/herself, but the two still seem to have a connection. The following day, A wakes up as Nathan: a boy who labeled as a goody two shoes. A takes Nathan’s body to a party that is over a hour away from his home to meet Rhiannon. However, unable to get home in time before A switches bodies at midnight, Nathan is left to wake up in his car on the side of the road a great distance from home with no memory of how he got there. Nathan becomes obsessed with finding out who and why his body was “possessed” and writes a threatening email to A explaining that he won’t stop until he finds out the truth, and that he will not “remain quiet” (Levithan 27). Nathan begins to spread his story to headlines in search of others who have encountered the same experience, and his efforts are relentless.
 As the story progresses, A continues to trade bodies,  and he/she has kept in touch with Rhiannon and told her the truth about his/her identity. Rhiannon is accepting of A, and begins to see A for who he/she is regardless of the body she/he is wearing. Rhiannon and A struggle to make their relationship work throughout the book. Rhiannon continues to still dating Justin, and cannot seem to figure out how a real functional relationship with A would work. Meanwhile, Nathan’s interests in A continue, and A eventually reveals himself/herself and for the first time, has hope that he/she is not the only one of his/her kind. With the new hope that A might not be alone, and a possible permanent solution to his problem, A comes to make one of the biggest, hardest decisions of his/her life.

Levithan’s novel creates a special connection to readers. His book is typically aimed for high school students because of the strong sexual under-tones in the novel as well as references to drugs and alcohol. His book depicts all walks of life, and as A is literally put into the shoes of others, the reader is able to make connections to people, stereotypes, and real life situations. He offers other ways to see the world, and an insight to understand people below the surface. In addition, Levithan’s book is friendly and inspiring for members of the LGBT community. A’s condition eliminates problems of gender and relationships, and Rhiannon learns to love him/her for who A is on the inside.

Every Day is written in a stylistic and creative way. It’s an original story that contains excitement, romance, humor, and drama. The characters are easy to connect with, and the novel speaks to people from all walks of life. Every Day will have readers changing the way they view others, and make them look at the world in a different way. David Levithan’s book is gripping, and leaves his readers feeling impacted.
Book Review by the NY Times

David Levithan's interview about his book


Tess said...

Links are attached to Levithan, NY Times, Book interview, Every Day book title, and LGBT - I am not sure why they don't look hyperlinked, but if you click it- it will take you to the link

Tom Philion said...

Hi Tess--nice job! Levithan is a great author, so I am glad you had a chance to read this book, and I will look for it in the future.

The links are just a bit awkward (the first one doesn't actually work, and the end one's would be stronger if integrated into your text better), and I think you could be more concise with the plot, especially given the her/his complexity. But overall this is a nice picture of the book--thanks for sharing, and I hope you can do some finetuning of your post, soon.

Zia Nathan said...

This actually sounds like a very powerful book. I think you do a really great job giving us a summary of such a complex book, and I will definitely add this to the books that I want to read. Just reading your summary has be thinking about what I'd do if I woke up in an unfamiliar life and how I'd adjust. It would be really eye-opening if you could literally live in someone's shoes and see the struggles they go through on a daily bases.