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Body Snatchers in High School; Every Day by David Levithan

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TITLE: Every Day

AUTHOR: David Levithan

LENGTH: 336 pages

PUBLISHER: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Aug. 28, 2012) – received from NetGalley

SUMMARY: (via amazon.com) Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

REVIEW: A’s singular universe is overturned when “he” meets Rhiannon. A begins to interact with other people on a real plane rather than floating through someone else’s experience as a passenger. A seems to realize how lonely “her” existence has been prior to meeting Rhiannon and now that A’s made that connection with another person, “he” is loathe to let it go. In choosing to finally involve “herself” in someone else’s life, A sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy this newfound claim on a life for “him”self. A then faces the decision that many teens face: Do I pursue what I want even though it could be bad for everyone but me or do I follow the path set before me? Teens will identify with this struggle in whichever way it manifests in their lives.

The magical realism in the book is startling at first and difficult to reconcile. Readers will have much the same reaction as Rhiannon: Wait, what? Levithan handles the element of A’s body-swapping well, however. With the rules that A has created for himself, because he doesn’t draw attention or get involved with the “host’s” lives, it is plausible. Levithan does a fantastic job of making A’s existence just a matter of fact and once A decides to share it with Rhiannon, A helps her to internalize this reality. Readers are brought into belief much as Rhiannon is: one life at a time.

I have been a David Levithan fan since Boy Meets Boy. I so admire his ability to tell the story of a PERSON rather than a boy or girl. With Every Day he does it again. A is the main character and, being genderless, makes the character relatable to all readers. The brilliance of this story is that unlike in other Levithan titles where one feels as if she is getting a look into a particular type of relationship (hetero or homosexual or familial), here readers will see the focus is pure attraction and love. It brings up several different questions: Is true love dependent on physical attraction? Does one love the idea of love more than the person? Is there REALLY one person out there meant for one specific other?

The strength of this book is Levithan’s ability to craft believable characters whom readers will root for and against. The magical part of these characters is that readers will begin to identify them by their PERSON rather than their gender or race. Which, really, is what we should want for all people, isn’t it? To see a person as the sum of her interests and deeds and gifts and failings rather than as a type. This book gives readers hope that that clarity is possible and hopefully readers will think twice before trusting a “label” again.

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