Every Day–Less Cliche, More Inspired

 

Every day a different body. Every day a different life.  Every day, a surprisingly deep and inspirational novel.  That is what David Levithan delivers in Every Day— the story of sixteen-year old A. who wakes up every morning in a new body, never able to develop lasting connections with family or friends. That all changes when A. meets Rhiannon and immediately knows he has to find a way to see this remarkable girl again.  Inhabiting bodies of all different shapes, sizes, and sexes, their relationship raises questions of love, life, and what happens when two people who are meant to be together just can’t find a way to be physically together.  Though the Young Adult novel features familiar issues of maturity and love triangles, Levithan presents sophisticated language and philosophical insights that encourage the reader to contemplate what it means to love an individual, no matter what skin they’re in.

 

     Though a contemporary young adult novel, Every Day also has science fiction and magical elements, appealing to not just the romantic reader, but to fans of the fantastical genre.  The idea of the protagonist shifting bodies but not personalities throughout the story is genius, and Levithan handles what could be a confusing premise with delicacy and inventiveness.  In fact, every time A. wakes up in a new body, the reader wakes up with him/her—Levithan utilizes A.’s introduction into each life as a way to really throw the reader into the world of both A. and the novel.  And though the story of a forbidden/love-triangulated romance is common in YA literature, Levithan strays from tradition by not supplying A. with a mentor or best friend/sidekick to help guide his/her journey into adulthood.  Rather, Levithan’s main character comes into adulthood literally one day at a time, taking pieces and lessons from each life A. inhabits to shape the person behind the flesh.  This variance from the conventional genre is welcomed and refreshing, but the novel’s underlying theme of love is still familiar enough to attract the typical YA fan.

 

      It is A.’s inspirational qualities, however, that really attracts the reader.  A. has the amazing ability to be read as both a stereotypical, love-struck teenager and a deeply philosophical individual, narrating about his/her’s magnetism to Rhiannon and his/her’s views about progressive love. Never did I doubt A.’s believability or ethical character, and though I did take slight issue with the seemingly rushed relationship between A. and Rhiannon, because it is A.’s first love (and real human connection), I forgave this fast fall.  The language A. uses to describe his love for Rhiannon is one of my favorite parts of the novel, even if it seems a bit dramatic.  Fairly early in the story, A. queries about the moment you fall in love, elaborating that “[This moment] feels like it has centuries behind it, generations—all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise, remarkable intersection could happen” (23).  Commenting on a rather clichéd subject with sophisticated language not only highlights Levithan’s ability to contextualize love in a beautifully elevated yet tremendously relatable style, but also gives A. credibility on matters of the heart.  In fact, it is A.’s determination to be with Rhiannon that really tugs on the reader’s heart, pulling you further and further into the can-they-make-it-last dilemma.  Even before we ultimately know what the future holds for A. and Rhiannon, you cannot help but feel inspired by A, who lives every day like it’s the last, appreciates and acknowledges someone because of their inner beauty, and fights for love because there is nothing else worth fighting for.

 

    The prose dealing with A.’s appreciation of this unequivocal love is perhaps the strongest part of the novel, particularly the sections dealing with the idea of loving an individual, not a certain gender.  The novel comments on young love in general, but it specifically discusses issues surrounding heteronormative relationships and presents multiple variations of love in order to present a challenge to conventional connections.  Levithan never gives A. a preferred gender to inhabit or details which sex he/she finds more attractive, evident when A. asserts, “In my experience, desire is desire, love is love.  I have never fallen in love with a gender.  I have fallen for individuals.  I know this is hard for people to do, but I don’t understand why it’s so hard, when it’s so obvious” (142). The simplicity of this statement echoes throughout the novel, urging the reader to side with A.’s view that loving someone because of who they are internally is undoubtedly easy, whereas any connection based on outer attraction seems, well, unnaturally wrong.  Especially in our world where beauty and lust are often mistaken for love, A.’s approach to the “obvious” methods of individual attraction makes the character sympathetic as well as estimable.  Levithan consciously evokes these issues of free, non-gendered love to instill an inspiring message that the ideal relationship is one in which the primary attraction is for the individual, no matter how strayed from convention he/she may be. 

 

    Making this social claim throughout the novel, Levithan makes it almost impossible for the reader to cheer against A. and Rhiannon’s love. Unlike many YA novels, the reader cannot predict the conclusion—partly because Levithan’s story is so inventive that it escapes any clichéd ending, but more so, because the reader sincerely hopes for something magical that will allot A. the happy ending he/she so deserves.  The climax does answer the question of will-they-won’t-they make it work and the resolution only testifies more to A.’s noble and admirable character, revealing his/her selfless approach to love.  Though the reader may be unsatisfied with the final status of Rhiannon and A.’s relationship, there is certainly a satisfaction in taking the novel for what it is: an original and uplifting tale concerning the unsuspecting yet undeniable sensations of true love.  Levithan absolutely succeeds in creating a story about teenage love that escapes cliché, and further, thrives in its ability to inspire the reader to love the individual inside the flesh.

 

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