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Booktalking "Every Day" by David Levithan
Tired of living with the same people every day? What about being a drifter who gets to experience life in different people's bodies every single day? You can never be in the same person's body for more than one day. Of course, identical twins are a different story.
No consequences for your behavior the next day. Luckily, the book's main character is the responsible type.
You could be rich, poor, thin, fat, popular, geeky, diabetic, crazy, athletic, home schooled, an actor... you could even wake up in your girlfriend's body. You inhabit boys, girls, you are a boy in a girl's body, you are straight, gay or transgendered. That is a lot of adventures for one lifetime.
Your girlfriend is the only one who knows that you coast into the life of someone new every day at 12 a.m. Best to be sleeping for that experience; otherwise it feels as though you are being wrenched from the body that you currently inhabit.
"A" only lives in the lives of 16-year-old kids. A's mind runs through 41 people's lives, from Day 5994 to Day 6034, with one constant: love for a girl named Rhiannon. The first day consists of inhabiting Justin, Rhiannon's boyfriend. Unfortunately, Justin does not care much for Rhiannon; more or less, he takes her for granted. Rhiannon's vision of Justin is enhanced through the eyes of love. They skip school and make out on the beach that day.
Then there is Skylar Smith, a reasonably athletic soccer player, and Amy Tran, a rock fan who is always wearing black. A notices that the lack of short-term memory for the lives whose bodies A inhabits is one of the major challenges of living as A does. A lacks the short-term memory that everyone uses to get through life easily. A would not know where the person usually keeps the house keys, his or her mother's maiden name, his or her best friend's last name, the locker combination, etc.
Nathan is a very organized, sheltered person. He attends Steve's party, where he melts into Rhiannon. Nathan is the one who becomes enraged at temporarily becoming unaware of his actions and having the police question why he is pulled over on the side of the road and sleeping overnight. Can this boy take any deviation, any imperfection in his life, or will he continually lash out at whatever force interfered with him?
Roger Wilson was a benevolent chap who helped his mother raise his sisters. A makes astute comments about the sense of belonging that is inherent in religions, and that they are very similar. Many people want to believe in a higher power.
A continues meeting with Rhiannon after discussing the situation with her. She is the one constant in A's life, a sense of continuity for A, almost as people's mates can seem to be a rock for them amidst much emotional upheaval in their lives. In Megan Powell's body, Rhiannon comes to understand A's predicament. How can she love someone whose body keeps changing? A loves Rhiannon, and A thinks that she is remarkable.
Then come the twins. First, James, then Tom. A was perplexed beyond belief to find A in seemingly the same body two days in a row, but it was of two different people.
Kelsea Cook wants to kill herself. Luckily, A was able to tell her father, and Rhiannon checked up on her afterward. A opines that mental disorders are not a choice for customers. The all-consuming pain of depression and self-harm follows Kelsea around like a black cloud over her head.
Hugo and his boyfriend Austin attend Pride events. A does not understand why people protest such events; it is like protesting the fact that some people have blue eyes. A thinks that some people use the devil to describe things that they fear when Hugo sees a sign with the words, "Homosexuality is the devil's work."
How would you like to be in the body of a supermodel? Ashley Ashton would almost qualify; she simply looks a lot like Beyoncé. The resemblance is uncanny. A prefers to be OK-looking, since being extremely attractive seems to dominate Ashley's life. People think that she looks too good to touch. Life is so much easier for her; people defer to her simply because she is gorgeous. Not surprisingly, she gets hit on a lot.
A inhabits AJ with diabetes, Valeria, an underage, illegal maid, Sallie Swain who is a cross-country runner, Daniel Stevens, who has a happy family, and then... Rhiannon's body.
A is obsessed with how Rhiannon sees the world and how things feel in her life. What an interesting opportunity.
Dylan Cooper is a design geek, Vanessa Martinez a mean girl. A theorizes that her mean comments provide entertainment for her bored colleagues. They are happy for a break in the monotony.
A sees life through the eyes of home-schooled George, actor Xavier Adams, and drunk driver Dana. Vic is a boy in a girl's body. Finn is over 300 pounds and has so much difficulty with mobility that the day is a major struggle. Lisa Marshall is a blind girl from whom A learned much about the sensations of the world and the senses that we use to understand them. Ainsley has a slight build.
I am so glad that I got a chance to read this inspiring book about appreciating people's spirits beyond their corporeal existence. It caused me to think differently about gender and its role in people's lives. This is by far one of the most fascinating fiction books that I have ever read. Levithan is a very versatile author who can write from a variety of perspectives. He transported me into worlds that I have never experienced and probably never will experience. The author helped me understand certain constraints that some people face on a daily basis. I do not read a lot of Science Fiction, but I was intrigued with the idea of this book by hearing Levithan speak about it at the recent NYC Teen Author Festival that he hosts each spring.
Levithan makes astute observations about life in the course of analyzing A's time in other kid's lives. The concept of inconsistency and lack of a permanent corporal existence makes one want to examine people's souls independent of their outward appearances. Who is A? One cannot summon up a physical description or a picture of the person in ones mind. A can only be conceptualized by personality characteristics, intellect, etc., not a corporeal existence, not a particular gender. This book lets readers know that who someone is as a soul is more important than his or her bodily appearance and/or physical or psychological ailments.
However, sometimes body and mind go together as in drug addiction, obesity etc. Problems in mental health can cause people to destroy their bodies through drugs or severe overeating, as in morbid obesity. Healthy mental attitudes can create healthier bodies. A has the advantage of seeing the world differently. People are not simply reacting to one body and personality. A sees the world through a variety of lenses, and A meets so many people. Levithan depicts all types of relationships; this is an interesting novel about LGBTQ life, experience and bisexuality—love the person, not the gender.