What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that David Levithan's best-selling novel Every Day is about a character called "A," who's a whole person emotionally and intellectually but wakes up every morning in the body of a different teen. Working from this premise, the author shows a broad variety of teen lifestyles, diverse sexual orientations, and gender identifications, as well as different approaches to parenting. The book shows teens engaging in some sexual behavior: kissing intensely and partially undressing. There's also some teen drinking, and one character wakes up with a terrible hangover, tortured by the memory of a drunk-driving incident that caused a fatality. Some teen characters abuse narcotics and marijuana, and there are a couple of fistfights between teen boys.
What's the story?
EVERY DAY is about a character called \"A,\" an emotionally and intellectually fully formed, genderless person who wakes up every day inhabiting the body of a different teen; for one day only, \"A\" becomes part of that person's home, life, and family. Despite this fantastical premise, \"A\" faces very realistic -- and very troubling -- situations involving family life, romantic relationships, and substance abuse. In the course of the novel, \"A\" reveals his/her secret to two people: one, a girl he loves; the other, a boy to whom he feels he owes reparations. In different ways, each of these revelations makes \"A\" quite vulnerable and ever more determined to find a way for love to transcend his/her troubled existence.
Is it any good?
David Levithan's novels usually have some sort of hook, and this one is so clever. "A"'s nonphysical self is neutral of gender, sexual orientation, and race, and yet he/she embodies so many different American experiences. It's a fascinating premise, made believable by the strong, consistent voice Levithan gives his character and the book's realistic emotions and events.
Serious issues like teen drug and alcohol use, sexuality, and first love are all familiar young-adult fare, but they're addressed in such a novel way here that none of the heavy stuff seems the least bit tired or overwrought. This is a wonderful, original book that's equal parts fantasy and super-reality.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about whether "A" is a boy or a girl. Do you have a strong impression one way or the other? What is the book saying about gender identification?
Every Day blends a fantastical premise with realistic situations. What effect does this have on you as a reader?
Do you think "A" does the right thing at the end?