By David Levithan
Every day, A wakes up in a new body and has to learn a new life bit by bit, through interactions with that body’s friends and family, and by “accessing” the body’s memories. Every night, A falls asleep and the cycle begins again. But just when A is getting used to the daily body switching, A awakes in the body of Justin, and meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon. From then on, A’s life becomes a struggle to find the same person, no matter where, when, or as who A wakes up.
What we like about it
is a character who defies gender stereotypes.
the unique perspective of this protagonist, readers get a glimpse of many
different people with different backgrounds, lifestyles, and personalities.
- The romance between A and Rhiannon is realistic and thought-provoking.
Questions & learning points
does A avoid explaining the way their life works to others?
other aspects of A’s identity do they avoid discussing with or explaining to
Rhiannon? Why do you think this is?
are some people who don’t feel that they are either a boy or a girl, but
identify as having two genders, no gender, or a different gender entirely. Do
you think their situations are similar to A’s? Why or why not?
- Do you think appearances are important in romantic relationships? How
did A’s changing appearance impact their relationship with Rhiannon?
Rebecca: While I found the plot of Every Day to be a charming and unique concept, I was frustrated by a lot of the language used in the book. Firstly, for a character that exists outside the traditional gender binary, A never seems to acknowledge their own gender, or frame gender as a spectrum. A frequently discusses situations in terms of “girl versus boy”. As well, during the chapter where A shares the body of a transgender boy named Vic, there are a few times when A describes Vic’s gender identity in troubling ways, for example, calling Vic “biologically female” or “born in the wrong body.” I am a cis reader, but I am aware that modern discourse speaks about gender in terms of either matching or not matching the identity assigned at birth. While it was great to see the inclusion of trans characters in the story, I feel that not enough research was done to treat the issues of gender in this novel with the care they deserve. This was true of many other instances of incidental characters in Every Day – often they felt like stereotypes A was exploring rather than snapshots of diverse people. A spent time as a young black girl, a boy with diabetes, a drug addict, an underage cleaning girl, and a suicidal teen, just to name a few, but rarely did A deal with unique aspects of these characters. Their conditions, cultures, and illnesses were simply name-dropped for interest’s sake, a sideline in A’s quest to find Rhiannon. I understand why, as a narrator, A did not afford every body A shared a long and detailed chapter about their life, since it would distract from the main plot of the story. However at the end of the book I ended up feeling that, while Every Day was an enjoyable read, it could have been an even better book if there were a little more attention paid to detail.
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