Every Day. My aunt said, “Oh, it sounds interesting. I’ll have to check it out.” And I replied, “The premise should not logistically work but oh my god it does and it’s brilliant.” Yes, there were moments when my brain stopped to ask how this should actually work, but it’s just so well done, I kicked my brain and carried on.
And to be fair, I did knock the premise of the book at first, mostly because I’m a little tired of “My life is mundane (even by fantastical standards) but LO I HAVE MET [LOVE INTEREST] AND MY LIFE IS CHANGED SUNSHINE SPARKLES AND RAINBOWS.” But when it’s well-done, I can roll with it, and that is exactly what Levithan does. I liked that A has questioned the implications of what they do even if they don’t really influence the actions of the person they’re inhibiting at the moment. (Note: It is really hard not to describe A with specific gender pronouns. Just saying.) I also loved that A’s had to grapple with the fact that they don’t get a ‘tomorrow’ before, and that meeting Rhiannon just brings that idea up again. And I loved that the whole conflict is summed up so perfectly by using a line from “Running Up That Hill” (a song I love btw) and it just fits so well into the whole book and such a fantastic metaphor.
A could have been a frustrating character in that they don’t really have a set personality—not that A takes on the full personality whatever person they’re inhibiting, but A doesn’t really define themselves by being just one thing. I liked that even though a large part of A’s development is that they can make a difference in the lives they inhibit, particularly with Kelsea, but it never feels too preachy or overstated. I liked that A generally does accept the bodies they wake up in and just rolls with the punches. The only time I had an issue with that is when A wakes up in the body of an overweight boy and freaks out about “Omg I’m so disgusting I can’t let Rhiannon see me like this” and that whole day comes off as pitying that boy. It felt a little too fat-shaming to me. But I did like that A has to deal with the physical and mental problems of each person they inhibit—the whole day with Kelsea being my standout. It takes a lot to deal with that kind of depression and just how A and Rhiannon deal with it…heart-breaking. I loved that A gets confronted with their own perception of how people can be. This shows up more whenever A confronts Rhiannon about how her boyfriend treats her, and Rhiannon flat-out says that A’s got a biased perception of the situation.
I really liked Rhiannon. She felt like a normal girl, not a free spirit or a popular person or emo kid, just normal. And she’s caught in between a boyfriend with whom all the passion has kinda dimmed and some kid who’s experiencing new things every day. I liked that she genuinely cares about people, like when she checks up on some of the other teens A’s gone into to see if they’re doing all right. I even liked that she still loves Justin and calls A out on their biased opinion of Justin being a douchebag. (Well, Justin is but not all the time. That definitely felt realistic.) Rhiannon could have been too goody-two-shoes Mary Sue, but she never falls into that role.
And from what we did get of the other kids, I really liked them. Loved Nathan—he’s not the only one A uses in order to see Rhiannon, but he’s the one who gets the brunt of the effects. And I liked that he’s pissed off about it, and does confront A about what happened. Nathan’s reasoning of what happened feels a little too fantastical, but it felt like a logical leaped conclusion, and I also liked that even Nathan has to reconcile his ideas of what happened that day with A’s reasons. I loved the little glimpses we got into everyone’s lives, even if we never got the sense of their personalities. It’s especially interesting when A runs into their previous bodies and gets to see the reactions to their missing days. And I liked that there’s a hint that A isn’t the only person who jumps. It’s not brought out in too much detail, but I liked that we got to see that A isn’t an anomaly.
This is a book that could have failed if anyone else had written it, if the focus was too narrow (see my aforementioned misgiving), if A was too bland or too snarky or had too much personality—there’s a lot of what ifs. But Levithan manages to take a premise that’s complicated and raises too many questions and turns it into this beautiful novel and just…I can’t say enough. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.
My aunt and I recently went to the 2012 National Book Festival in DC, and during the trip, I talked to her about the authors I wanted to see. I mentioned David Levithan and that I had just started to read