Every Day by David Levithan
I never had a problem with A’s love for Rhiannon even after I realized that A could inhabit the body of either a boy or a girl. A’s life as a soul without a body that inhabits a body and displaces that body’s soul for twenty-four hours was a refreshing and complicated sci-fi read when I first read it when it appeared on the FAME Florida Teens Read web site several years ago. A doesn’t even understand the process. A simply is and has learned to cope with the process as A has grown up as a being that does not inhabit its own body.
I struggle here not to use gendered pronouns because we do not really know what gender A is. We do not even know if A is human. We accept the story because A first appears for the reader in Rhiannon’s BOYfriend’s body (p. 4, Day 5994). The initial situation meets heteronormative standards, and how A and Rhiannon deal with A being in a girl’s body becomes an interesting obstacle (Days 5995, 5997, 6002, 6005 (which deals with depression and suicide), 6007), but my own heteronormativity forces me to think of A as all male. A does not even refer to A as all male. A is simply A, and A’s life changes when A realizes A loves a single person. Being in different bodies every day impedes A’s ability to show Rhiannon who A is, to prove that A is the same even though the body changes daily. Until the day A wakes up “not four hours away from her, or one hour, or even fifteen minutes” (p. 188, Day 6015). A wakes up IN Rhiannon’s body.
Then there is the complication of Nathan, who knows he was not inhabiting his own body, who remembers not inhabiting his own body, and who makes it known that A exists. Nathan is willing to look foolish to prove A’s existence. A tells Nathan, in an email, that his “name is Andrew. You need to believe me,” but Nathan tells A to “Prove it” (p. 209, Day 5999 when he is Nathan but Day 6017 when dealing with Nathan becomes even more difficult). Nathan has his story published in the newspaper (p. 84, Day 6001) and joins with Reverend Poole to force A to prove that he is not the devil (p. 141, Day 6006).
Every Day by David Levithan sounds like a simple book, but it isn’t. Complex psychological elements occur with this book. Fundamental Christianity’s seamier side is questioned with the introduction of Reverend Poole and Nathan’s reliance on him. The idea of how a soul can maintain itself without a body is questioned. The idea of a body being separated from its own soul is questioned. The ability to love as an entity that has no physical properties is questioned as is how to love that entity back. Are there even aliens in this book? Is this another form of human possibility, like cloning, that we have not even considered? And what does intersectionality for A look like? When I read this book years ago, I thought it was an interesting bit of sci-fi. Rereading it for this course has made me rethink the entire book. There’s also a sequel, I’m told, that tells Rhiannon’s perspective.
Levithan, David. Every Day. Ember, 2012.