What if you woke up this morning and found yourself in the body of another? Today you might be a drug addict. Tomorrow you might be a hulking football player. Who’s to say who you’ll be next? Everyday’s world functions around this very premise: day-to-day journeys through the eyes and lives of others. A, the main character, has no other choice. A has no body, no assigned social category. Rather, A must float through through the universe, inhabiting the bodies of others, inhabiting their lifestyles, their inherited memories, their relationships with people. A must traverse across space after a day’s duration, and in this way, the readers find themselves in a new world with each new chapter. Although the author restricts each different body to a different chapter, the reader nevertheless finds themselves immersed into the lives of each character in the same way that A must accustom themselves to each novel experience. Given the limit of keeping one life a day per chapter, Levithan structures a book palatably broken into stages, with each chapter potentially appreciated in isolation as would a collection of short stories. Ambitiously, A assumes a variety of personalities, all representing a different young adult trope under the umbrella of human development. A inhabits the bodies of the beautiful and the damned, the depressed, the ignored, the sheltered, the immense, the inhibited, the tainted, the drugged. In this way, Every Day offers insightful measures about the way individual beings approach the same physical, psychological, and social issues.
I felt like the central conflict battled the boundaries of the flesh (body) with the freedom of the individual inhabiting the body (mind). The two take a Cartesian division, and A’s self-awareness highlights this struggle, “when the body takes over the life… when the body’s urges, the body’s needs, dictate the life.” The delivery of this story needs no dissecting or central lens. Despite the hectic nature of A’s life, A nevertheless enforces structure and sense to their thoughts, the only attainable form of order in their case. The author, it appears, writes in a way that a bodiless being would write: clearly and with a general scope of things. Above all, Every Day poignantly and straightforwardly teaches us to find value in the heart of personhood, transcending their body and loving them for who they essentially are. “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.”
Disbursed throughout, A lends a philosophical understanding of the world in terms of temporality, more so than the average life-term can provide. For the young-adult demographic especially, A’s rapid life-stages mirror the struggling transition from child to adult. On the other hand, however, this book also acknowledges the many roles that everyone must play in society, the difficulties of being tied to a single body. These confessions take the reader to an alternate, virtually impossible universe; A gives us the opportunity to float across perspectives in a way that redefines empathetic understanding. Given A’s other-worldly limitations, however, finding and maintaining love becomes the prime struggle in terms of plot. When A falls for a bodied human, Every Day becomes an ongoing fight to maintain a linear narrative amongst the chaos of disbursed tales. A refuses to give up their love, however, and so love comes to play a critical key in merging A’s world with the world we live in.
Although many of this book’s moments of wisdom closely relate to experiences in the real-world, A also exposes the reader to a critical perspective that lies outside the limits of our consciousness.With moments like “Normal people don’t have to decide what’s worth remembering… I have to decide the importance of each and every memory,” A both alienates and forces self-reflection about the work of memories. Despite A’s unusual situation, Levithan nevertheless makes each story a relatable segment of humanity, connecting the reader and A with moments like “I have to remind myself that normal people feel this way, too: The desire to take a moment and make it last forever.” At the same time, A’s system of entering bodies limits the agency of the body at hand. I found myself curious about whose body A would inhabit next, how he would reconcile this with his journey for love. There are a few unexpected plot twists that somewhat satisfied the trajectory of the text, but I personally felt that it could have been left more abstract, like A’s composition. In hindsight, however, I definitely recommend this book to readers looking for a fresh perspective as well as to those who want to push the power of fantasy to its limits while still being in the realm of the modern world.
– Kyra Huete