Suspend disbelief and give the out-there premise of David Levithan’s new novel, Every Day, a chance: Each morning, a 16-year-old named A wakes up as a different person, borrowing the life and body of a similarly aged kid in the greater Baltimore area for 24 hours. One day, A gets to strut around as a gorgeous Beyoncé look-alike; the next, A has to haul a morbidly obese boy’s sluggish self to school. No matter how A happens to look each morning, A’s decisions, emotions, and soul are his/her own. Try not to overthink the body-travel concept, though. Levithan, editorial director of Scholastic Press and coauthor of young-adult hits like Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, has imagined such a rich existence for his protagonist that any logistical loose ends don’t seem important.
The novel opens on A’s 5,994th day on earth. A has long accepted that he/she will never experience real permanence, including parents, friends, or romance. That changes when the teen falls for a beautiful, sensitive girl named Rhiannon. From that moment, no matter how A appears to the world — as a lesbian, a jock, a suicidal girl, or a debate nerd — he/she will do anything to spend one more day with her. Though Rhiannon eventually comes to recognize A by the look in his/her eyes, she struggles to get past that ever-shifting exterior. And when A becomes increasingly careless with the lives he/she visits, such impulsiveness has disastrous consequences.
Levithan keeps the pages turning not only with ingenious twists on his central conceit (what happens when A wakes up in Rhiannon’s body?) but with A’s hard-earned pieces of wisdom about identity, isolation, and love. He clearly understands the profound effect that fun, thoughtful literature can have on young people. Every Day has the power to teach a bully empathy by answering an essential question: What’s it like to be you and not me — even if it’s just for one day? A-