Editor’s Note: A is agender and their preferred gender pronoun is not explicitly stated in the book, but we will be using “they” pronouns.
Although fascinating and impossible to put down, the beauty of David Levithan’s newest novel is found much more in the ideas it explores rather than in the story itself. “Everyday” tells the story of A, a teenager who has woken up in a different person’s body everyday for their whole life. A has occupied every type of person you could possibly imagine, and has managed pretty well learning how to navigate different people’s lives. Typically, A just tries to get through their days smoothly and go as unnoticed as possible. That is, until A wakes up in the body of Justin and spends one of the best days of their life with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. Never before has A experienced this type of connection with another person, and when they wake up the next day, she’s all they can think about. This cycle continues; everyday A wakes up in a new body, longing for another day with Rhiannon, and everyday it’s just as impossible as the day before. Even the day they were in Justin’s body, it wasn’t truly possible for A to spend the day with Rhiannon because A could never be A; they had to be Justin. If they didn’t, A would be breaking the rules: “Never get too attached. Avoid be noticed. Do not interfere.” After meeting Rhiannon, however, these rules were impossible to stick to. A few days later, A wakes up in the body of Amy Tran, who lives only a short drive away from Rhiannon, so A decides to pretend Amy is a new student who needs to be shown around in order to spend the day with Rhiannon. Two days after that, A is Nathan Daldry, a mere ninety minutes away from Rhiannon. I’m sure you can imagine what happens next. For the first time in their life, A is breaking the rules, being selfish, and disregarding the consequences.
As far as I’m concerned, the A and Rhiannon portion of the story is at best an interesting exploration of how and if relationships can transcend gender, sexuality, and even physical existence itself. What I found most enjoyable about this book were the questions that it raised about what it means to be a person, and how selfish we are allowed to be. The former is particularly fascinating and thought provoking. What constitutes personhood? A felt just as real and present as anyone, but without a body to call their own, could you really call them a person? I’ve always felt that the most vital part of a person is their mind, but “Everyday” reminded me that as much as I try to convince myself that bodies don’t define who we are, they are literally vital to our existence as a “who” and are also one of our most basic human rights. Does this mean that A is not a person? A takes ownership of people’s bodies, and even if it’s just for a day, those people lose that basic right. Is A’s mere existence a human rights violation? How selfish is A entitled to be, and what kind of right do they have to control other people’s bodies in order to acquire one for themself?
Another interesting part of this book is the extreme diversity of its characters, and at the same time, their similarities. There’s a great moment where A is getting ready for church on a Sunday morning in the body of Rodger Wilson and says, “It’s only about the finer points that it gets complicated and contentious, the inability to realize that no matter what our religion or gender or race or geographic background, we all have about 98 percent in common with each other… For whatever reason, we like to focus on the 2 percent that’s different, and most of the conflict in the world comes from that.” A has lived in every body imaginable, in every type of family situation you can think of, and has thus observed the world from such an extraordinary point of view that gives a whole new meaning to the word “empathy”. Most people think that they are defined by their differences from others, but “Everyday” rather reminds us that our similarities are far more defining.
Overall I’d give this book an 7.5 out of 10. Although the ideas are important and thought provoking, its plot, in my opinion, lacks the same interest.
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