Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Every Day

Every Day
David Levithan
London, Random House, 2012, 371p

I first encountered David Levithan via John Green, as they co-wrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson. One of the key themes in the story of Will was identity, a subject Levithan has explored again in Every Day.

A wakes up each morning in a new body. A's life has been like this for as long as he can remember, and every day he must access the memories of the body A is within and wander through life as other people. But one day, A meets a girl he can't help but fall for and finds it impossible to resist going back again and again, taking with the bodies along for an unexpected ride with dangerous consequences. 

Since the first body in which we meet A is male, I struggled to not think of A as male, but it was clear that Levithan is trying to challenge gender and sexuality norms by creating a character who defies all standard identifiers. One day, he will meet with Rhiannon as a football jock, and the next day as a timid studious girl, but each time he still loves Rhiannon unconditionally. And Rhiannon must strive to see through A's external appearance to the person beneath. 

What I love about this novel is Levithan's complete disregard for labels. Each body that A adopts is completely different - academic student, burnout, athletic boy, lesbian, religious fanatic, overweight teen, homosexual, stoner - meaning the weight of labels is challenge on every level. In places, this felt a little forced, as A never embodied individuals with similar characteristics, and I felt that surely a life like this (however unusual) would involve some boring days of being in people with similar characteristics - but I understand what Levithan is trying to do. In implanting one spirit in so many variant vessels, Every Day demonstrates the prominence of socially constructed difference.

t made me think about the way we relate to people based on their looks, their dress and their background.

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