Every Day- David Levithan

A is a person without a body.  He/she spends one day each in another person’s body, trying not to upset their lives or get too involved with anyone or anything, keeping his/her existence a secret.  That is, until the day he/she meets Rhiannon, a girl who makes A think that there may be people worth sticking around for.  Suddenly A is risking his/her own life and the lives of the kids whose bodies he/she inhabits for a chance to be with the girl who makes life seem worthwhile.

Every Day has a really interesting premise– a person without a body.  A’s character made me think hard about the importance of our bodies to our identities.  We get to see A in the shoes of everyone from a very obese boy, a gorgeous girl, a suicidal girl, a drug addict, and a transgendered person.  The way A is treated, even by Rhiannon who knows his secret, varies tremendously depending on the body he is in.  Rhiannon cares about A, but can’t bring herself to kiss A if he/she is in the body of a girl– or an obese boy.  Clearly body plays a role in both how others think of us and how we think of ourselves, as much as we may preach that what’s on the inside is all that counts.

Also intriguing is how difficult the concepts of sex, gender, and sexuality become when we look at A.  He/she has no sex because he/she has no body.  But if gender is truly independent of sex, then A should have some gender.  I, for one, thought of A as male.  Partly because of heteronormativity of it and partly because the book blurb uses male pronouns, I’d guess.  But A is not really a boy.  Or a girl.  Gender comes to seem really silly and arbitrary without a body involved.  Even further, A inhabits a variety of bodies, but is still attracted to Rhiannon.  Whether he is a boy, girl, transgender, A still loves the same woman.  Does this make A straight or gay or bisexual?  None of the above, it seems… without a body, without sex or gender, sexuality is completely irrelevant.

All that said, the issues/premise of this book were the best part about it.  The plot left a little to be desired… A’s relationship with Rhiannon is practically doomed from the start because A has restrictions on his life based on the lives of the bodies he inhabits.  A doesn’t live a stable life and a stable relationship doesn’t seem like it could ever come from that.  So the love story aspect here was sort of sad, but more because love itself seems hopeless for A, not because this particular love story had its troubles.  Then, because the romance wasn’t really a big enough conflict, I guess, there is some danger to A because someone figures out his secret.  That part of the plot wasn’t really fleshed out all that well and seems to be rushed to a conclusion.  And because the plot was sort of eh, the book ended a little quickly and without a satisfying conclusion.

However, despite the plot flaws, the deeper issues in this book surrounding gender and the body/mind divide make it a must-read to me.  It is the sort of book where the thoughts it generated far outweighed what the book was actually about.