Several years ago, I read Every Day by David Levithan. The premise is unusual: the main character, A, wakes up in different body every day and assumes the person’s life. The change occurs at midnight while the character is asleep. Intrigued by what I read about the YA book, I checked it out from the library and read it. Some readers might think following a character who changes bodies every day, sometimes male and sometimes female, would be difficult. Levithan, however, keeps A consistent despite the difference in looks and personalities each day.
A astutely recognizes that he should do no harm while he inhabits another person’s life. He accesses the other person’s memories and does his best to fit into that person’s life. In my mind, A is a male even though the character does inhabit both male and female bodies. A has no choice in the matter. Every Day has been made into a movie which was released in February 2018.
After reading Every Day, I thought no more about the book. Then I discovered a sequel: Another Day. In Another Day, Levithan takes A to a new level because he falls in love with Rhiannon when A inhabits her boyfriend Justin’s body for a day. The two skip school after lunch and go to the beach even though the weather is cool. They have a perfect afternoon, a rarity for the couple.
Readers quickly learn that Rhiannon is in a toxic relationship with Justin. Moody and verbally abusive, Justin keeps Rhiannon guessing how he will react to even the most innocuous of comments. For example, if she asks him whether they will go to a party given by friends on Saturday, he complains that she is boxing him in. Their afternoon at the beach turns out to be completely free of the usual tension between them.
That afternoon makes Rhiannon feel their relationship is right once again. The feeling is short-lived, though. Justin quickly reverts to his old self once A has left. Rhiannon tries to justify Justin’s behavior to her friends who all think she should drop Justin.
When A inhabits Justin’s body, he does the unthinkable, he falls for Rhiannon. For the first time, A wants to see Rhiannon again. Of course, he will be in a different body, perhaps a female’s body. How can he explain his changing bodies to Rhiannon?
In the body of Amy, A visits Rhiannon’s school and seeks her out. Rhiannon discovers that Amy’s family is moving to her school district soon so Amy is looking over the school. The two spend the day together with Amy shadowing Rhiannon at school.
On Saturday, Rhiannon and Justin go to a party at Steve’s house. Steve and Stephanie have a similarly toxic relationship, but continue to date. At the party, Justin gets drunk, hos purpose in attending the party, while Rhiannon stays sober to be the designated driver. Rhiannon meets Nathan who claims to be Steve’s cousin and also to be gay. While Justin drinks, Rhiannon and Nathan dance in the basement—with Justin’s permission since he thinks Nathan is gay.
Nathan and Rhiannon have a good time dancing and talking. At the end of the evening, Nathan asks, “Would it be weird for me to ask you for your email?” The two exchange email addresses. Now, with Rhiannon’s email address, A begins emailing her brief messages as Nathan.
Rhiannon discovers Steve does not have a gay cousin named Nathan, so Rhiannon tells Nathan that in an email. Nathan responds that he can explain if he and Rhiannon can meet in person again. Rhiannon agrees to meet Nathan at the bookstore cafe after school. Of course, readers know that Nathan will no longer be the person Rhiannon met at the party. Nathan emails, “I’ll be there. Although not in a way you might expect. Bear with me and hear me out.” He signs the email with A.
Rhiannon gets to the bookstore café first and takes a table by the window. Soon, a girl sits down at the table with Rhiannon. Rhiannon tells her the seat is taken. The girl replies, “it’s okay. Nathan sent me.” The girl explains, “I need to tell you something. It’s going to sound very, very strange. What I need is for you to listen to the whole story. You will probably want to leave. You might want to laugh. But I need you to take this seriously. I know it will sound unbelievable, but it’s the truth. Do you understand?”
Rhiannon agrees to listen. Then A tells her he wakes up in a different body every day. Today he is Megan Powell. To convince her that he is telling the truth, A reminds Rhiannon of the story she told him when he was in Justin’s body, about the time she and her mother were in a fashion show. Rhiannon knows she has not told the story to anyone else.
Clearly, such a story of switching bodies every day sounds preposterous. Rhiannon feels she is being the butt of a joke that is not very funny. Still, A continues talking and telling her she is remarkable and that he wants to meet her as himself.
A explains his interest in Rhiannon this way: “You’re kind to a random girl who just shows up at your school. Because you also want to be on the other side of the window, living life instead of just thinking about it. Because you’re beautiful. Because when I was dancing with you in Steve’s basement on Saturday night, it felt like fireworks. And when I was lying on the beach next to you, it felt like perfect calm. I know you think that Justin loved you deep down, but I love you through and through.”
Suanne B. Roush reviewed Another Day for School Library Journal. Roush describes Rhiannon as “a needy doormat who thinks that because Justin does not hit her or cheat on her that he is a good boyfriend.” After meeting A, Rhiannon becomes a different person herself, recognizing that she does not need the grief that Justin inflicts on her daily.
David Levithan has an impressive body of work of more than twenty novels including Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Another of Levithan’s novels that has an unusual premise is The Lover’s Dictionary which is written in the form of dictionary entries. The short entries “provide an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.”
Read more about David Levithan and his work at this link: http://www.davidlevithan.com/.
His lover’s dictionary can also be found on Twitter at @loverdiction.