Kyle W. Ross
Eastern Washington University
Common readings are an excellent opportunity for students to engage in a dialogue on relevant experiences, challenges, and obstacles they may encounter while in higher education. A challenge that can often arise for advisors, though, is finding a reading that is relatable and engaging for the students they serve. I believe David Levithan’s (2012) Every Day is an excellent book to consider specifically for a first-year seminar or college success strategies course. It is a young-adult fictional story that challenges readers to explore their identity as more than just a stagnant description of their physical selves and consider contemporary moral issues young adults face.
Every Day tells the story of A, who ever since he can remember, lives each day in a new body not of his choosing that resets at midnight every night. One day, he can be a handsome basketball player, and the next, a girl whose parents do not acknowledge her existence, but the people he jumps into are within a relatively close proximity to each other, some 15 minutes away and others a four-hour drive. He is always in a body of someone around the same age as A, who is 16. The story takes off immediately on his most life-changing day: the day he himself, not the person he embodies, falls in love. From there, A breaks his own rules he lives by to continue to see her, and there are some “butterfly-effect” consequences along the way. For example, one person becomes aware that someone took over his body and is determined to find out who and why.
What I was gripped by throughout the entire story was the little moments and insights A shared about his life, particularly what parts of him remain consistent in his identity across each body and what changes as a result of the next day. His story is the representation of living life in the hear-and-now at its extreme. David Levithan provides these thought-provoking moments that can be an entire day’s conversation on their own, from how race is constructed to the responsibilities imparted on people who are aware of another’s intentions to harm themselves. One example of these moments is this passage when he wakes up in the body of Vic, who is biologically female and gendered male: “If you want to live within the definition of your own truth, you have to choose to go through the initially painful and ultimately comforting process of finding it” (p. 253).
I found it challenging to identify weaknesses in this book. There is a little monotony in the middle of the story, but I think it was intentional on the part of the author because it lets the reader get into A’s routine, and some readers may not enjoy the emphasis on love and romance. That being said, I highly recommend this book to those who are looking for a common reading book for their curriculum. Every Day is fast-paced and engaging, which I believe would make it very effective particularly for first-year students navigating their transition into college and the adventure of reconstructing their identity in a new environment.
Every Day. (2012). David Levithan. New York: Ember, 384 pp. $9.99, (Paperback), ISBN #978-0-307-93189-4, http://davidlevithan.com/books/every-day/.