Friday, January 17, 2014

Every Day by David Levithan

 This book came highly recommended by Orson Scott Card. He has a (more or less) weekly review column on his web site called "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything", and he definitely reviews EVERYTHING. He talks about board games, movies, books, restaurants, snack crackers, candied nuts, kitchen gadgets, music...and anything else that he experiences. Card is always a delight to read - I've spent many a sleepless night over the years finishing off one of his novels - and so I like to read his reviews every once in a while, just for new things to check out.

Every Day is the story of A, a person...entity...who begins each morning inhabiting the body of someone different. He has done this as long as he can remember, and has no way to stop the daily migration. When the book begins, at Day 5994, A is sixteen years old, and has landed in the body of Justin, a typically self-absorbed high school student with a typically infatuated teen sweetheart, Rhiannon. While A controls Justin's body for the day, he falls head over heels (evidently for the first time) in love with Rhiannon, and decides that he must somehow do something he has never attempted before - stay in contact with her from day to day, and to reveal his great secret to her, in hopes that she will love him, too, and that their love will conquer all obstacles.

Of course, we all realize that there are only two ways this can go, if she does indeed fall in love with A. First, she would have to be able to accept any incarnation of A and be willing to disrupt her life every day for the rest of their mortal spans in order to be physically together, or A must find some way to fix himself in the same body for the long haul. No spoilers, but this is the conflict about which Every Day's solar system revolves.

The most interesting part of this young adult novel for me was how Levithan really seems to get into the minds and life situations of each of the people whom A briefly inhabits. We have a fair selection of what I'd consider statistically "normal" teenagers, and then there are the "Odds" - a girl who cuts herself and wants to commit suicide, a happy well-adjusted gay teenager, a drug addict who can barely get through the day without his fix, a "male" trapped in a female body who is loved by a girl who loves him/her despite his incorrect gender, a mean girl who delights in putting people down, a knockout fashionista, a pair of student athletes, a homeschooler raised by Jesus Freaks, an alchoholic who killed his brother in a car wreck, and so forth. A also ends up in the body of Rhiannon, herself, at one point, and makes a point of not seeing her...herself... naked, as that would be taking advantage of the situation.

Levithan makes it all very interesting, though as a science fiction reader I really want to know more about the nuts and bolts of how it works, and where the "souls" of the people A occupies go while it's happening. A can concentrate on leaving them certain selective memories of the day, or just let them have a very vague recollection of an ordinary day. A tries never to interfere in their lives, or change anything radically, and  only breaks that rule a couple of time in the course of the novel. It's also pretty clear where Levithan's sympathies lie, as an author and probably as a person, as the LGBT characters of the story seem to be the happiest, all in all, and those "judgmental" religious types are portrayed as villains, jocks are just dumb, and handsome and beautiful people are vapid and vain.

A well-told tale, suitable for mature teens in its themes.

No comments: