Here’s the premise: every morning you wake up in a different body. You have no way of knowing who this person is, or what their circumstances are, until you access the person’s memories. The only common factor is that the person is the same age you are. Your gender, race, economic status, language, could change from one day to the next. For one day, you live in this person’s body, experiencing all the person’s ups and downs. You have some agency, limited by your sense of fairness and responsibility to the person whose body you’re using. You can even give your involuntary host memories of what you did while in the host’s body. What you can’t do is build a continuous life.
A, the main character of Every Day by David Levithan, is sixteen years old and has been living this way as long as A can remember. Pronouns are difficult for A, who has no real gender but lives sometimes as a boy and sometimes as a girl, so for the remainder of the review I’ll use the third person plural to refer to A.
A has, as a result of their strange life, experienced all kinds of lives, with families and without, with loving and indifferent and hostile parents and siblings, with friends or without friends, with all kinds of handicaps and abilities. A has no idea why they are living this life, but, knowing no other, they accept it as the norm and are reasonably adjusted to it.
Until one week, when everything changes.
Two things happen, either of which alone could make A’s life, already complicated, much more difficult.
First, A meets Rhiannon. A is in the body of her boyfriend, Justin, and A falls in love with her as Justin seems incapable of doing. A woos her in Justin’s body, not telling her that A isn’t really Justin (and how would she know anything different?), knowing that the next day A will be someone else and will never see Rhiannon again, if all goes as it usually goes. A doesn’t want it to go as it usually goes. A wants to see Rhiannon again. A wants to build a relationship with Rhiannon, despite A’s daily change of body.
Second, A uses the body of one Nathan Daldry to go to a party where A, as Nathan, can see and talk to Rhiannon. A cuts it a little close and ends up abandoning Nathan’s body by the side of the road. Nathan, found by the police, reports that he was possessed, and the story hits the local news and then gets wider and wider publicity. Worse, A didn’t clear A’s cache in Nathan’s computer, so now Nathan can communicate with A, which he does, in increasingly angry and demanding. Nathan finds himself a minister who uses Nathan’s story to talk about Satanic possession, and A starts hearing more and more about this minister.
As A tries to balance their desire to be with Rhiannon, and to deal with Rhiannon’s decidedly mixed emotions about A’s continued efforts to be part of her life, and their fear of what Nathan and his preacher might do to A’s life, things get incredibly complicated, and I am not going to give more details because part of the fun of this book is seeing who A is going to be, and how A is going to encounter Rhiannon (and other significant people) over the course of the book.
A is a fascinating character, and you as a reader find yourself wondering how you would cope with a life like that. There is no explanation given for why A is in this situation, or how or whether it could be changed, but if you’re willing to suspend disbelief and run with the concept, you’ll be swept up. For the last half of the book, I kept wondering how, or even whether, the author was going to be able to resolve the story (there are few things that drive me crazier than a book that works well until you get to the end and then the climax is a total letdown), and I have to say that while I didn’t expect the ending to this book to be the one Levithan chose, it was satisfying and brought the book to a conclusion that worked.
For anyone who’s doing the 2017 Reading Challenge, Every Day qualifies for the category “Read a YA or Middle Grade Novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.” Not that you need that incentive to read this quirky but wonderful book, but it is always fun to read something great and get credit for it as well.