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Every Day: Love and Body Theft
I have read two of David Levithan's books previously ("Boy Meets Boy" and "Wide Awake") and liked them both immensely. it is therefore no big surprise that I was enthusiastic to pick up this book, his most recent. And while I loved "Boy Meets Boy" and "Wide Awake," in my opinion "Every Day" blows them out of the water.
The book's main character, who goes simply by "A," is an entity who, for reasons even A does not understand, takes over the body of a random person for a day and lives their lives for them.A has learned to try to live the life of whoever was taken over as closely as possible, so as to lessen as much disruption as possible.
However, one day when A has dropped into the body of Justin, a run-of-the-mill high school asshole, A finds him/herself falling head over heels in love with Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. Even after leaving Justin's body, A brings other people he/she has taken over to interact with Rhiannon, culminating in a night when he takes over a guy named Nathan and dances with Rhiannon at a party. However, doing this makes Rhiannon realize something is up, and A unfortunately leaves some hints behind to Nathan that he was taken over...
I liked first of all the character of A, and how ambiguous he/she is. Having lived an entire life where one's identity shifts every day, who A actually is on any particular day shifts as well, although Levithan is able to establish a firm bedrock of a character: one who tries to not interfere with the lives that are taken over, but who is willing to disrupt things in order to fulfill A's own desires (many of the people A takes over have a tendency to skip school, for example). While A tries to be as decent as possible, A's goals come before whoever has been taken over on occasions, making A a somewhat morally gray character, although one who still manages to retain audience sympathy by at least being cognizant of the damage he/she could do.
I also really liked how well Levithan was able to establish the diversity of the people who are taken over. Boys, girls, gay, straight, upper- and lower-class, Levithan is able to write them and their circumstances extremely well. I also really liked how Levithan was able to get across the wonder of seeing the world through many different eyes, and also deal with the horror of being dropped into the life of a drug addict, an unstable alcoholic, or a suicidally depressed person. Each person that A becomes seems unique and different, and it's amazing how some chapters can seem like little short stories in and of themselves, as A deals with the problems of the people taken over as best as he/she can.
A and Rhiannon's relationship works well as well. Once again, Levithan does not shy away from the complications in A's situation, with Rhiannon preferring some bodies very much over others, and seriously doubtful of the possibility of a future together. I liked how A is able to take the initially very reserved Rhiannon out of her shell, and cause her to blossom into her own person over the course of the story.
All in all, this was an inventive and creative novel, and it really shows off David Levithan's talents. Definitely pick it up if you are looking for something a bit different, as it really is a great story.