Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Every day

Every day by David Levithan

I'm still at odds of what to make of this book (which is a secret way of saying that I really liked it because it's challenging every part of my inquisitive nature). SO, have an amazon summary!

"In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a "wise, wildly unique" love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Alright, so I apparently can't figure out how to format the amazon summary space without it getting all weird and out of order, so if it looks weird, I had a moment. ....ENJOY.

First thing, there's a foreword from the author in the beginning of my copy of this book, and it's basically David Levithan revealing that this began only as an idea and he spent the book exploring many aspects of that idea. It also portrays how much of an awesome sir/gentleman he is. Hats off to you David Levithan! (I also want to spell your last name as leviathan for some reason this morning, thank goodness for spell check.)

So the story begins with the careful unfolding of a bizarre circumstance; a person switches bodies every day with people who are about the same age as them. We're going to call this person A, the narrator, and the big mystery. One morning, A wakes up in Justin's body and we encounter how he is able to get through his days; he interacts with people based on what he perceives their expectations to be of the person he's inhabiting. He can access the memories of the person he's inside, determine what's kind of going on and then puts them through their normal day.

That is, until A meets Rhiannon. They spend one day at the ocean together and A knows that they need to meet again. That they need to be together in some way.

Suddenly, A wants attachment, commitment, love; on the level of someone knowing who and what A is. So A begins to seek out Rhiannon regardless of what body he's in.

Now A doesn't identify with a gender; sometimes they feel like a male, sometimes they feel like a female, but mostly they just feel their own personhood sans gender. They also seek for Rhiannon to know them without having a gender attached to them; to love A for who A is regardless of the body they're in.

I'm going to go ahead and ignore the quest of their relationship, what it all means, blah blah blah because there's something heart-warming and heart-breaking about this story that I need to talk about.

For the sake of ease on my part, I'm going to use 'he' pronouns when speaking of A. In no way, shape, or form does A identify as a gender, but my brain needs a little break and an easier way to talk about this awe inspiring concept.

Levithan has created a chameleon character; a character who is not grounded by the normal restrictions that most characters are. There is a sense about A that they are the least human character we meet, but they are the most humane character we meet.

Physically, A does not seem to be human. A is rooted in taking over the forms of other humans in a way that he does not understand; he knows it happens and accepted long ago that it was going to keep happening so he created a sense of decency to his hosts and tried to respect their lives regardless of their choices and live their lives as they would. When he leaves the body, he tries to imbue it with good memories, or with something good in it. He'll never truly know if it works because he'll never return to the same body.

Mentally, A is incredibly human. The way that A breaks down human interaction is that it all falls into formulas, that everything is to a rhythm and each person's life is not too far different from the next. In this way there are moments when we see that A is tempted to be evil, there are moments when A is tempted to be good, there are many moments where A is simply trying to make it through their day. A has developed a moral compass of their own and tries to let it always point in the direction of doing something right or good. There are several instances in the story where A 'kidnaps' their host to meet Rhiannon, thus wrenching the body into something they would not normally do. There are also moments where A reaches out as the person in order to do something incredibly good for that person's life.

I find this all heart breaking in the sense that A is lost without Rhiannon; A does not make connections with the humans of the world but rather thrives off the connections that the body already has. No one truly knows of A until Rhiannon, but A has the sweetest nature to them.

A sees the connections that matter the most and seek to strengthen and enjoy them. A sees the personhood of each person they come into contact with, whether it be the host or the strangers, and to me, I find that very heart warming.

I find the notion of seeking love regardless of the body they're in or that you're in to be the best romance of all time. Where the person is truly valued regardless of whatever associations are constricted around the body. To truly see someone. It also seems appropriate to share this song, SAME LOVE, while I'm at it.

What's that? I should come with a warning that I'm a sucker for romantics? ...I think I do actually. HA!

So in all of this, I think the novel begs the reader to ask two questions; what does it mean to be human? How do you value equality?

Not necessarily answer these questions, but just to ask them.

Why is it asking what does it mean to be human? I think I pretty much covered that.

But why is it asking how do we value equality? A gives the perspective of treating every body they inhabit with the same rules; respect their lives and try to live it as they do. There are a handful of glaring exceptions in the book, but in those cases, I believe that A chose the moral route in how to navigate it. Then again, there are moments where A is utterly 'human' in that they follow their own wants/needs regardless of their situation. So again, what does it mean to be human?

What does it mean to treat people truly as equals? To respect not only who much alike we are, but to also respect how utterly different we can be? What does it all mean?

This is a thought provoking book for me, and I think it's going to haunt me for a little bit. But that's okay, I like that sort of deal.

Happy reading!

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