Every Day and Another Day by David Levithan
For a short while, I was a member of a “featured book club” through the Strand bookstore in NYC. I received three books from the club, I think, before canceling. The ones I got were fine, but I realized I’d rather read what I want to read, rather than what the bookstore thought was important. It’s worth mentioning that the copies they shipped me were autographed first editions, which was cool. Anyways, I bring this up because the reason I read these two books which I’m reviewing today, is that I received one of them through this club. And then I figured I better read the other one to get the full story. Yep, that’s how they getcha!

Another Day is the one the Strand shipped me. But it’s actually the second, or companion book, to the original story told in Every Day. In which we learn about the life of a mysterious 16 y/o named A, who wakes up each day in the body of a different kid his same age. Quantum Leap style, if you get that reference. The body A inhabits could be boy or girl, of any race, and of any size. A has existed like this his whole life, working hard to make as little impact as possible on the person’s life and on the world as a whole. This “stay detached” strategy works well until A awakes as a boy named Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon. A immediately falls head over heels for Rhiannon and for the first time ever he reveals his secret as he tries to form a relationship with her. Of course, he has to woo her while inhabiting the many different bodies of many different 16 year old kids.

Another Day then flips the script and tells the exact same story--but from Rhiannon’s perspective. So we learn her intimate thoughts and feelings as she meets A while he’s in her boyfriend’s body, and then as she attempts to love A in all the different bodies he inhabits after that.

Every Day, the book told from A’s perspective, is the better of the two books because his wildly variable days are interesting. Mr. Levithan does a fine job of giving us a small glimpse into the life of each teen A inhabits. Thus making us readers really reflect on how different people are, and how we all have our own sometimes tragic, sometimes basic, sometimes triumphant stories. And you’ll clearly feel the desperation A experiences as he risks everything by trying to form a relationship with Rhiannon. The end of the book is a little unsatisfying, which was disappointing, but I’ve learned that today’s books just rarely seem to go where you think/want them to go. This doesn’t matter so much though, because the true impact of the text is in the variety of lives Mr. Levithan shows us. After reading about all of them, you’ll better appreciate young people and feel much more compassion about their struggles in this world.

Another Day, Rhiannon’s story, is OK--but I didn’t enjoy it as much because it lacks the creative element of the main character jumping from body to body. What IS good about this one is the fabulous job Mr. Levithan does of immersing us in Rhiannon’s life. I’ve said this many, many times in these little write-ups I do, and this book is another great one to really prove this point: you can learn so much about kids from reading modern YA books and you can connect with your own kids on such a strong level if you read them together.

Rhiannon goes through all the trials and tribulations of being a 16 y/o girl with high school friends and a boyfriend. There is some mention of sex, some making out, hooking up, etc.--but nothing overly graphic or offensive. So this book simply gives a parent a hundred different chances to say “How did you feel about this?” or “Did you think the boyfriend should have acted that way?” or “Has anyone ever done that to you?” If you have trouble talking like this with your teen (boy or girl), or you THINK you might have trouble with it in a few years, or if you know someone who has a precarious relationship with their kid, give them these books.

Reading is such a phenomenal way to learn, to understand, to enlighten, and to bond. I can’t say that enough and believe me, I’ve read many YA books recently so I can clearly see that this is one of the main and best benefits of this genre. Well, and also they are (usually) quite entertaining too, so that’s pretty great!

I recommend both books for adults and teens who like contemporary high school stories with a slight fantasy edge since A does the whole jumping from body to body thing. Start with A’s story in Every Day and if that’s enjoyable, check out Rhiannon’s view of things in Another Day. And read both books with your kids if you need/want to - I just know the stories within will help you create deeply beneficial conversations.

Happy Reading!