Author(s): David Levithan
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Release Date: 08/28/2012
Hard cover Price: $16.99
Reading Level: 14-17
Other Choices: The Book Thief, Beneath a Meth Moon, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Synopsis: Inventive teen romance blurs notions of gender, reality.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that David Levithan's best-selling novel Every Day is about a character called "A," who's a whole person emotionally and intellectually but wakes up every morning in the body of a different teen. Working from this premise, the author shows a broad variety of teen lifestyles, diverse sexual orientations, and gender identifications, as well as different approaches to parenting. The book shows teens engaging in some sexual behavior: kissing intensely and partially undressing. There's also some teen drinking, and one character wakes up with a terrible hangover, tortured by the memory of a drunk-driving incident that caused a fatality. Some teen characters abuse narcotics and marijuana, and there are a couple of fistfights between teen boys.
- Families can talk about whether "A" is a boy or a girl. Do you have a strong impression one way or the other? What is the book saying about gender identification?
- Every Day blends a fantastical premise with realistic situations. What effect does this have on you as a reader?
- Do you think "A" does the right thing at the end?
What's the story?
EVERY DAY is about a character called "A," an emotionally and intellectually fully formed, genderless person who wakes up every day inhabiting the body of a different teen; for one day only, "A" becomes part of that person's home, life, and family. Despite this fantastical premise, "A" faces very realistic -- and very troubling -- situations involving family life, romantic relationships, and substance abuse. In the course of the novel, "A" reveals his/her secret to two people: one, a girl he loves; the other, a boy to whom he feels he owes reparations. In different ways, each of these revelations makes "A" quite vulnerable and ever more determined to find a way for love to transcend his/her troubled existence.
Is it any good?
David Levithan's novels usually have some sort of hook, and this one is so clever. "A"'s nonphysical self is neutral of gender, sexual orientation, and race, and yet he/she embodies so many different American experiences. It's a fascinating premise, made believable by the strong, consistent voice Levithan gives his character and the book's realistic emotions and events.Serious issues like teen drug and alcohol use, sexuality, and first love are all familiar young-adult fare, but they're addressed in such a novel way here that none of the heavy stuff seems the least bit tired or overwrought. This is a wonderful, original book that's equal parts fantasy and super-reality.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Every Day's fantastical premise -- that a person with a soul, conscience, and intellect inhabits a different body each day -- allows the book to explore various teen lifestyles and issues. The book shows the power of love and the relative happiness of teens with healthy lifestyles and happy home lives.
Educational Value: Readers will learn a little about geography around Baltimore and about high school life and relationships. They'll also explore diverse family situations and relationships of different American teens.
Role Models: Because "A" inhabits a different body every day, the book contains a multitude of parent/child relationships. Most of the parents are loving, engaged, and supportive, while a few are either too rigid or too out of touch. "A" himself is a caring, conscientious person who tries to balance feelings of responsibility toward his host people with a compulsion to be with the girl he loves.
What to watch out for
Violence One of "A"'s host bodies, a heavy metal dude, is physically attacked by a jealous boyfriend and ends up with a few cuts and bruises. One of the bodies "A" inhabits is a teenage drinker who remembers causing a fatal car accident; her memories of the crash are brief but graphic. One person wants to commit suicide. A pot smoker gets into a fistfight with a drug-dealing school mate.
Sex: "A" kisses the boyfriends or girlfriends of a few of the bodies he/she inhabits. A couple of times, a kissing session gets somewhat intense, and once when "A" is with Rhiannon, they disrobe from the waist up. Once "A" wakes up as a girl next to her girlfriend in bed. It's mentioned that Rhiannon has had sex with Justin, but that's not described.
Language: Characters are occasionally called names, including "whore," "bitch," and "slut."
Consumerism: "A" mentions that a pot-smoking character eats Cheetos. Characters visit Starbucks.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: A teenage drinker wakes up with a hangover and remembers causing a fatal accident. "A" wakes up in the body of a drug addict and struggles with the cravings/needs of the person's body for a day. Teens drink alcohol at a party. The older brother of a girl whom "A" inhabits smokes pot while driving his sister to school.