I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.
Oh, and I love chocolate.
I'll start this review with a little fine print. While I loved Every Day, I recognize that this is not the book for all readers. For one, it doesn't answer all questions and the ending is very open. If this frustrates you in books, then you'll either need to change your expectations before reading or select something else.
OK, I've had books I've enjoyed. There are many books I've given a full 5-star rating to. But there are only a handful of books that really impact me. I don't always provide a deep review on these because they've affected me to the point that I don't need to go into detail (because in all honesty I write up these reviews for my own reading record, and if it happens to help another reader in the process then great). However this book is unique. It's the kind of book I'd love to talk about with my book club. But I read it on my own, so I'll use this review to express some of the things that I think make this a powerful book.
I don't usually recap story plots in my review, but a short one might be needed here. The main character, known as A, is basically a soul that inhibits other bodies for just one day. A only enters the body of someone at the same age, it could be a boy or girl. There is some sort of geographical limitations and the switch occurs at midnight no matter if A is asleep or awake. It's been this way since A can remember.
First off, this book is very well written. Given the nature of A's life, there are many characters introduced. Many different views into the lives of several families. Normally I'd be afraid that this type of variety would make me lost and confused. However Levithan wrote this in a way that not only kept me engaged, but made me become connected to each and every one of the families presented. That's difficult to do, so huge credit to his talent.
As stated above, this book does not give many answers. There is no explanation for why A's life is the way it is or how exactly it works. Some readers have had strong issues with this concept and I can't fault them for that. I, however, didn't care. I actually really liked that A didn't have the answers, and so subsequently we didn't either. For me, it's representative of life. Do any of us truly know how we came to be? How did we get into our own bodies? We have our personal beliefs stemmed from religion or science, but they are not known certainties. Why should A's life be any different? A has to go with what has been learned throughout the life he/she has led and trust that there is a reason for his/her existence. A's acceptance and trust in the life that he/she had been given was a powerful representation of faith.
Some readers have also had issues with the fact that A has no real gender. A can be in the body of a boy one day and in a girl the next. Rhiannon, the one person A confides in, asks A if he/she feels more at 'home' in one body over the other. A says no. As a society we tend to be very gender driven. I know there are movements now to help kids grow up gender-neutral, but I'm not going to discuss that here. I think readers on either side of that discussion can enjoy this book if they accept that there is no hidden agenda here. I do not believe the author is trying to say that gender is not important. To A it's not important. But to Rhiannon it's very important. Both sides are represented here, and neither side is presented as wrong or right. Just as existing.
On one level Every Day is a love story. A falls in love with Rhiannon while inhibiting the body of her boyfriend, Justin. There is this insta-love on A's side (which, not surprising, many readers also have found issue with). The insta-love plot for me is hit or miss. I believe some and don't believe others. I believe that people can be connected to each other instantly. It might be in the way the person looks at you. It might be the smell of their shampoo. It might be the way their laugh resonates down your spine. Something - whatever it may be - connects to a part of you instantly and you feel compelled to dive deeper. In this case, I totally believed it. A lives a life that prevents him/her from becoming attached to people. A explains that he/she had tried to do this in the past but it was too painful, knowing the next day they would be left behind. So when A feels this unexpected connection to Rhiannon, A feels there is no choice but to pursue it. Some of A's tactics do come across as stalker-ish, but I can even understand that (not justifying, but understanding -- there's a difference). I mean, imagine if you had to live a life where you couldn't become emotionally connected to anyone. When you feel a spark of that, even if for only a second, it would naturally consume you. There would be borderline obsession to be near the person who can make you feel so alive. There is not insta-love on Rhiannon's side because she believed A was her boyfriend Justin. She already had an attraction and feelings to the person she was looking at. When A was there, it was simply that Rhiannon was showed how wonderful it could be when she was with someone who really cared about her.
The kind of life A had to live required him/her to search deeper into every person encountered. Not only the body that A was in, but the people in that person's life as well. There was no tomorrow to hope for. There was no past to hold A down in that life. There was simply that moment - the present - to focus on. What an amazing way to live. The highs that come with that are the ability to see people for who they are. The ability to recognize how amazing life can be, and how painful it can be. How there are things you have control over and things you don't. How people treat others based on physical appearances alone. How we treat ourselves based on physical appearances alone. Yet there is also the low of living that kind of life - knowing just how alone you truly are in the world.
I also loved how A fought hard to remain a good person. A could have messed up the lives of every one he/she inhibited. And there are things A does in order to see Rhiannon which does mess up their lives a bit, but A tries very hard not to change the course of any lives. For me this is very representative of how we all have to fight for humanity these days. How easy is it for people to sit behind their computers and spew hate? How easy is it to blame others for our own mistakes? How easy is it to just do what's expected, or acceptable, rather than what's right? A has to fight to stay on the right path every day, even if that means A has no real life of his/her own. Sure there are some mistakes, but my assumption is that even A is human.
The ending of this book is difficult, yet very beautiful.
This can be a very powerful and eye opening book for the reader who wishes to explore the possibilities.