Everyday genius

“Even if you were green and had a beard and a male appendage between your legs. Even if your eyebrows were orange and you had a mole covering your entire cheek and a nose that poked me in the eye every time I kissed you. Even if you weighed seven hundred pounds and had hair the size of a Doberman under your arms. Even then, I would love you.”

When you fall in love, who are you really falling in love with? People like to believe they fall in love with what’s on the inside of a person, but how would it be if all the externals were different every time you met? For most of us, that’s just an interesting topic to muse about, but it’s of more than academic interest  for A. Why? Because every morning for 16 years,  A has woken up encased in a different body and forced to inhabit the life of another stranger for just one day. Then one day, A wakes up in the body of a boy named Justin and falls in love, for the very first time, with Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon. Suddenly, all the rules A has created to keep safe, are thrown out the window. Nothing matters but finding Rhiannon again… every day.

Handled by the wrong writer this storyline has huge potential for slapstick comedy, but you can put all thoughts of Freaky Friday out of your head because in the hands of Levithan Every Day is a nuanced and thoughtful exploration of what makes a person who they are. A experiences life in the bodies of 16-year-olds of every shape, size, race and gender and the sharply-detailed vignettes of their lives are one of the best things about the book.

There are a couple of potential pitfalls with Leviathan’s insistent harping on the love is blind theme: A’s pursuit of Rhiannon can come across as overly stalkerish at times, while the emphasis on genderless nature of true love comes close to crossing the line into full-on preachiness. But the quality of the writing manages to circumvent these hazards and the story resolution, which I was a bit worried about as the last page started to loom, was adroitly handled.

I first came across David Levithan’s writing through Will Grayson, Will Grayson, his brilliantly funny collaboration with John Green. Both writers are part of a zeitgeist in the US that are bringing LGBT-friendly teen fiction to a wider audience in a way that is just not happening in the UK at the moment (more of this in another post soon), so while it’s a shame that Levithan is not yet as well known in the UK as Green is, hopefully that will change when Electric Monkey brings Every Day out here in paperback later this year. Meanwhile, if you want to splurge a tenner on a hardback I can’t think of a better book to choose.

Every Day, David Levithan, Alfred A Knopf, £11.49

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Filed under David Levithan, LGBT teen fiction

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