What if you were a different person every day of your life? No family. No friends. No home. No reality of your own. Could you ever find love? Could anyone ever love you?
Sixteen-year old A, the protagonist of David Levithan’s novel Every Day, is a genderless being who inhabits a different body everyday for 24 hours. A accesses the memories of his hosts, but his spirit and consciousness control the body for the day. On Day 5994, A wakes up in Justin’s body and falls in love with his girlfriend Rhiannon after spending the perfect day together. A tries not to disturb the natural sense of order in the lives he occupies; however, he cannot resist breaking from routine when he meets Rhiannon. A feels an undeniable urge to give this beautifully sad girl one day of happiness. A finally has a reason to live and make a connection with someone, but can he make Rhiannon see his soul without having a body of his own?
Every Day explores a new avenue not developed in YA literature—a body transient—but it fails to successfully establish its believability and deal with issues of love, identity, sexuality, and gender that arise. Within the first few pages of the novel, A meets Rhiannon and thinks to himself, “I don’t know why. I don’t know her. But it feels right.” A instantaneously falls in love with her after spending a few seemingly mundane hours together, which begs the question, what is so different about Rhiannon? Levithan does not provide an answer for this and thrusts the reader into A’s search to find Rhiannon. There is not enough substance to justify A’s intense feelings for Rhiannon and his decision to alter his entire lifestyle for an ordinary girl, which creates a frustrating experience for the reader and makes it difficult to connect with A. A is supposed to be the “nice guy” who saves Rhiannon from her “bad” boyfriend, but the ways in which A shamelessly uses other people to accomplish this causes an adverse effect. Furthermore, their meeting seems inconsequential and a little unbelievable that A has never met a girl like Rhiannon in his thousands of days of body hopping. As the novel progresses, it grows harder and harder to swallow the blind love that A and Rhiannon feel.
Levithan grapples with very interesting issues about love, gender, and sexuality because A is not gendered. He illustrates how love is the connection between two souls and one’s exterior is irrelevant. Although the message itself is not unique, the premise of A’s body-less character is an intriguing twist to relay this invaluable message. The theme of the novel is heartfelt, but there are some issues with its execution. A never tells Rhiannon whether or not he is male, female, or none of the above. Rhiannon asks A, “Have you ever been in love?” To which he replies “the closest was this guy Brennan” and Rhiannon does not skip a beat and instinctively says “Tell me about him.” I find that Rhiannon too easily accepts that A is not gendered, which gets rid of a critical opportunity for Levithan to expand more upon the relationship between gender, identity, and sexuality. Rhiannon, completely unfazed by the fact that A was in love with a boy before her, never presses him about the matter afterwards, which is extremely unrealistic. Rhiannon’s character lacks a sense of reality and the reader is forced to follow along on this path of reckless acceptance.
The novel is a quick, fast-paced read and exciting because each chapter holds the tale of a new identity. Levithan pushes the boundaries of the YA genre because each host provides a new set of issues to deal with outside the stereotypical “insta-love” trope. The subplots of the novel expose mature subjects such as suicide, drugs, addiction, love, and religion. Levithan’s shining moments are found in the background stories of A’s host bodies and provide an escape from the sometimes nauseating narrative of A and Rhiannon.
I found the first pages of the novel caught my interest and compelled me to continue reading the novel, but by the end there were too many questions left unanswered, which made this an unsatisfying read. As a stand-alone novel, it does not provide the proper conclusion to leave the reader satisfied. After 6034 days, A does not seem knowledgeable about his own identity and being, which leaves the reader unsure of it as well.