Last year (in May if I am remembering correctly) I had the pleasure of attending a rather interesting book panel. Now, I don’t know if you have ever had the chance to attend a book panel before, but they can be quite entertaining. Authors reading excerpts from their books, give examples of what inspires them, explain just how exactly they ended up on the FBI’s watch list….you know, normal stuff. I love them, and most of the time I am tuned in. Radar is up, and I’m knee-deep in book heaven. (It’s my element. I’m not there very often so I take advantage of it while I can.) But this particular panel was different for me. I was, well…out of it (for a lack of a better term.) I was “there” but I wasn’t really “THERE.” Anyways (I digress) about an hour into the panel they opened (as they always do) the floor to questions from the audience. The first 5 or so questions were status quo. “Do you listen to music when you write?” “Who is your favorite author?” “Is that your real hair color?” Nothing I hadn’t heard before so I (pretty much assuming I knew where the rest of thees questions were going.) checked back out. Then came a tiny voice from the back of the room. Her question…
“How do you write something original?”
Oh no! It was the big “O.” The piece de resistance of questions. The big kahuna of quandaries. The Mt. Saint Helen of hum drums. (Ok..enough of that.) It is the question everyone always wants to ask, but no one ever really wants to answer.
The room got quiet. (I’m talking dear Lord, do not fart because they will hear you 2 counties away quiet.) The audience held their breath. Sweat dripped slowly from the brows of the authors. (Alright, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic.) And then the answer came.
At first I thought I had heard wrong. You can’t write anything original? Hogwash! I don’t believe it. Then she (the author that is) explained her reasoning and a lightbulb went on.
She was right. *gasp*
The thing is…everything has already been written. Love. Danger. Consequence. Horror…and since I’m guessing I don’t have any 18th century followers, these were all covered well before our time.
There are no orignal “stories” only original ways to “tell” the “story.” Which I think is much harder to do anyways. Right?
That is why I was absolutely giddy (Yes, I do in fact get giddy from time to time.) when I started to ready “Every Day” by David Levithan and realized, I had NEVER ready anything like it before. An age-old story. A crazy new way of relaying it.
“There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.”
I would be remise if I didn’t state (right out of the gate) how much I LOVED this book. Besides it’s obvious brilliance (which I’ll get in to in just a sec.) It managed to open my eyes to a world I often shut out.
The “story” inside “Every Day” is very generic. Boy falls for girl. Girl falls for boy. They try like hell to get their crap into tidy little bags so they can be together. 1 + 1 = 2. Unfortunately, being with the one you love isn’t as easy as 1 + 1 when one of the parties involved doesn’t really exist. (At least in the traditional sense.)
“There were days I felt like a girl and days I felt like a boy, and those days wouldn’t always correspond with the body I was in. I still believed everyone when they said I had to be one of the other. Nobody was tell me a different story, and I was too young to thing for myself. I had yet to learn that when it came to gender I was both and neither.”
Imagine for a second (if you will please) that one day you wake up to find yourself in someone else’s body. You are still you, but your “shell” is not your own. It’s Justin’s. Now…you have two options. You can (A) access Justin’s memories and carry on as usual (school, homework, overall jack-hole-ishness) or you can (B) make a major change in his life. Deviate from the plan. Just for one day though, cause at midnight you have a one way ticket out of there. To someone else’s body.
What would you do?
In A’s case, he chose to live HIS life. A choice that (up until now) has never even crossed his mind. “You DO NOT interfere!” That is, and always has been his one major rule in life. But when he stumbles upon a sad, closed off Rhiannon (Justin’s girlfriend) and wants nothing more than to make her smile, all of that changes. He changes.
But, with circumstances the way they are (hello…he body hops EVERY DAY and never into the same person twice.) establishing a relationship with someone, ANYONE is impossible.
First off…who would even believe you?
This is the plot that encapsulates A and Rhiannon’s romance. Trying to establish a connection when the players keep changing.
As for the players (and this is the brilliant part I was referring to above.) This book is not just about A and Rhiannon. It’s about every person whose body he jumps into. One chapter at a time Levithan introduces you to humanity, and he does it so brilliantly that you barely even notice what is happening.
With each jump we get a glimpse of a different way of life. We read what it’s like to live inside the body of an addict, a twin, a girl days away from committing suicide, and boy who is overly sheltered by his parents, a boy experiencing loss for the first time, a popular girl, a mean girl, a gay teenager, the girl he loves.
In short…we get to experience LIFE from every angle imaginable. We get to experience life from the outside looking in. We are finally afforded the opportunity to understand what if feels like to be nowhere and everywhere, to be someone and no one all at once. Because that is A’s existence.
“I will never have a family to grieve for me. I will never have people feel about me the way they feel about Marc’s grandfather. I will not leave a trail of memories that he’s left. No one will ever have known me or what I’ve done. If I die, there will be no body to mark me, no funeral to attend, no burial. If I die, there will be nobody but Rhiannon who will ever know I’ve been here.”
Read this book. Not because I tell you to, or because you feel the need to be a part of some “inner circle.” Read it because it’s good. Because it’s uncomfortable and ends abruptly. Read it because it’s important to be moved by literature and this book will move you.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Do not let your circumstance decide your fate. Let your fate decide your circumstance.
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