Every Day by David Levithan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The concept for the story is intriguing - A is a person that inhabits another person's body for one day. Sometimes A is a boy, sometimes a girl. A can inhabit different colors of skin and different shapes and sizes. A tries to minimize the impact of occupying the body. A is supposedly not judgmental. Whatever body A inhabits is fine with A.
The story is, I believe, about acceptance. People come in all shapes, sizes, genders and orientations. There is no preference given the above mentioned categories. Biology does play a part in a person's makeup, as demonstrated by the chemically depressed girl A inhabited one day which was moving and empathetic. Very well written. Also well-written is the chemical dependence of the addict and physical pain A felt and the act of defying the urge by staying in the bedroom until the end of the day, enduring.
Yet I feel like Leviathan is preachy about his own beliefs, pushing his viewpoint whether than just letting the reader think. The lack of understanding that gender might effect Rhiannon's attraction and the implication that she is wrong for that isn't fair. I'm only attracted to men. Does that make me a bad person? Even though being attracted to one gender is more common, A pushes the idea that it's wrong and judgmental which feels judgmental to me.
Much of the storyline focuses on gender and orientation rather than acceptance of each person. Not that the author doesn't attempt this topic because he does. The protagonist inhabits a 300 lb. boy, an addict, a boy grieving for his grandfather, a mean girl, a football player, a deeply depressed girl. Yet the recurring theme tends toward gender being a societal construct rather than a biological reality. Love is love no matter what. There is lesbian love, homosexual males in a gay pride parade, a transgender female going through hormone changing injections with a girlfriend, a past where A fell in love when occupying a boy's body with another boy and began a romantic relationship yet I don't recall (although I may be mistaken) a healthy heterosexual relationship portrayed throughout the book.
Additionally, the topic of religion is brushed upon but not in a favorable light. I did like the summation that religions share a great deal of commonalities because I agree with this especially when clarified with the differences being the history of their church and origin. But overall, humans believe in a higher power and a greater purpose. However, brushing religion under the carpet as being unimportant is rather condescending. Despite the commonalities of all religions, I'd wager that identifying with a religion is one of the top 5 characteristics of most people. Perhaps because my sexual orientation is just assumed, I don't typically qualify myself as "heterosexual."
The concept of this book is interesting, but overall it's a romance. It carries all the cheesy declarations of loves that come with that. If the book had focused less on the romance and been more well-rounded in it's portrayals of different belief systems it would've probably rated higher for me. It seems to want people to understand different viewpoints without fairly attempting to understand theirs. Faith being portrayed so inaccurately is very frustrating, especially when it's also unnecessary.
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*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.