I have been in a reading slump lately. Nothing is really satisfying me and I am in the middle of a couple of books that I really will finish someday, but they just aren’t holding my interest right now. It happens sometimes. The problem with a slump is that awareness of it just makes it worse. I start to wonder… How long will the slump last? What’s causing it? Do I need a pair of lucky reading socks? Should I change up my reading routines? Should I take a break from reading? Should I read an old favorite? What if I don’t enjoy my old favorite and it is ruined for me forever? What if I never enjoy reading again? The horror!
So, that is where I was for the last couple weeks and it was terrible. So, I decided to try a book that no one recommended to me. I found it on my “to read eventually” list. I am not sure where I heard about it, but it was probably some list online. Maybe it was a science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction list. Or, perhaps it was a young adult novels featuring LGBTQ characters list. Those are lists I have encountered and this book could have been on either of them. Maybe it was one of those Amazon recommendations. Because you bought…, you might enjoy… The book I chose was Every Day by David Levithan.
I picked it because I had no association with it. No expectations of it. No feelings that I would be letting someone down if I didn’t like it. I moved it from the “to read eventually” list to the “to read next” list and reserved it at the library. Thank goodness. I was so freaking charmed by this book. It was exactly what I needed. It was fun.
Every day A wakes up in a different body. A is an individual. A has personality, preferences, feelings, thoughts… just no personal corporeal form. Amazing premise, right? A is about 16 years old and each day A gets exactly one day older. A’s hosts are always the age that A is. So, initially A inhabited infant bodies, then toddlers and so on. A has made peace with this life, mostly. Until A meets Rhiannon and falls in love with her. This shatters A’s serenity and causes A to want. Permanence, stability, normalcy… all things that A has never had and things that it is torture to want.
This book is reminiscent of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife in that it is a love story first and a sci-fi, body hopping, learn about humanity by walking a mile in their shoes story second. It is also young adult fiction, which means that some aspects of it will be a little bit transparent to adults. I read a few reviews of this book where adults were downright angry about this. It’s for teenagers, y’all! Embrace that or go read a book written for adults if you don’t like it. Just saying.
Here are some of the transparent bits (no spoilers). Teachers, social workers, camp counselors and people in roles like those are “mandated reporters.” This means that if they know (or even just suspect) that a minor in their care is being abused, is suicidal or is abusing drugs, they are required by law to report it. There are no such mandates for A. There isn’t a council of body hoppers or a body hoppers code of conduct. A has adopted a policy of minimal interference, but occasionally A struggles with whether it is morally right to provide help that hasn’t been requested. Some of these dilemmas may feel a bit clichéd to the adult reader, but I found them to be well done. They were interesting without being preachy and they are portrayed with sincerity. The falling madly in love bit is also adolescent. Charmingly and beautifully adolescent. Levithan does a remarkable job of portraying both the teenage realities and the teenage ideals of love.
There was one logical inconsistency that bothered me a bit and other detail oriented readers will likely be bothered by it as well. Initially A doesn’t know if it is possible to influence the host’s memories of the day that A occupies their body and then later A not only believes that it is possible to do this, but this ability becomes an important driver of the plot. It doesn’t connect and it bugs me a little, but not a lot because this is primarily a love story and this particular inconsistency works within the primary story line.
Ending a reading slump is not about reading an excellent book, whatever that means. It is about enjoying a book. Last night, I sprawled out on a blanket at Schenley Plaza while a crowd of hundreds of people watched some big sportsball game on a big screen. (It was the Women’s World Cup Finals. Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t know.) I read while everyone cheered and chanted and I was having as much fun as anyone else there. Feel free to chant U-S-A! if you like.