If you're wondering just how wildly original the premise of David Levithan's "Every Day" is, here's a good indicator: Among other things, the acknowledgements contain a thank-you to the people he discussed it with for not stealing the idea and writing it themselves. And no doubt, they would've been tempted.
In the life of the narrator, known only by the initial "A," every day is an experiment in non-demonic possession—with the sensitive, thoughtful A waking up each morning as possessor, in the body of a teen the same age. This has been A's life for as long as he (or she, what with the genderfluidity of being bodiless) can remember: a life in constant motion, of strict observation, and in which human connection is dangerous if not downright impossible.
After 16 years, A has ceased to wonder about his predicament and focuses strictly on making his day-long stay as non-disruptive as possible to the life of his unwitting host. But when he wakes up as Justin, an insensitive, selfish 16 year-old boy, he finds himself suddenly yearning to reach out—to Rhiannon, the gentle, sweet-natured girl who loves Justin in spite of herself, and who might just be the one person who could offer the lasting love A yearns for.
Despite the "Freaky Friday"-esque possibilities, "Every Day" never descends into slapstick or goes for a cheap laugh. Instead, Levithan has written a thoughtful and fascinating story; funny moments are few, far-between and bittersweet, and the net effect is a convincing portrait of what it might be like to be a homeless human consciousness. A's memories of how he came to understand his predicament are realistic and heartbreaking, and the rules that govern his life are cruelly arbitrary while being entirely believable. (A is, admittedly, remarkably well-adjusted for a soul who's had such an unstructured childhood.) And although the "It's what's on the inside that counts" messaging can get heavy-handed at times—and A's impassioned insistence on the irrelevance of the physical is somewhat belied by the fact that the object of his affections is a conventionally pretty girl—the questions it raises about why, how and whom we love are poignant ones.
"Every Day" might have a fantastical premise, but it's a study in the most real and human of concerns: the importance of empathy, the value of friends and family, and the beauty of permanence that we have the luxury of taking for granted.
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