Every You, Every Me

 
Cryptic photos drive emotional novel of teen angst and loss.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Through Evan's investigation of the photographs, readers learn a little about digital manipulation of photography. Evan also explains the mathematical and visual concept of fractals.

Positive messages

This a highly emotional novel asks more questions than it answers, as teens in the book try to comprehend and accept their roles in Ariel's mental and emotional struggle. However, the narrator, Evan, learns that though he believes himself to have been her closest friend, he knew only the self that she let him see. This helps him understand that he could not have been responsible for Ariel's mental instability. Evan's journey carries a strong message about self-forgiveness.

Positive role models

Evan and his friend Jack are not fantastic role models for real teens, but they are strong, realistic characters that may be reassuring to teen readers who feel similarly alone. They will be able to relate to Evan's pain and his inner struggle over what to hide and what to reveal emotionally. There is also quite touching kindness in this teen world; the characters have suffered a loss that's too complex for such young people to process, but in many instances, they reach out to each other to offer support.

Violence

One character in the novel is self-destructive. She talks about obtaining a gun and exhibits suicidal tendencies. She also aggressively cuts and scratches her skin.

Sex

Evan talks about lying on a bed next to his friend, Ariel. He also observes Ariel and her boyfriend, Jack, doing some intense kissing.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One teenager, Jack, smokes cigarettes. Evan doesn't care for it and mildly gives him a hard time about it.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this latest novel by the co-author of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is a hyper-emotional novel about teens trying to process the fallout from the actions of an unstable friend, Ariel. Ariel's suicidal tendencies and dramatic mood swings have a profound effect on her close friends Evan and Jack. Evan expresses his ongoing pain and inner struggle, accentuated by crossed-out text passages that show the reader what this character is feeling but not saying, and his feelings of loneliness and grief are just as troubling as the events to which he's reacting. This book is highly relatable for emotional teens, but it is beyond the experience and comprehension of young children and probably preteens, as well.

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What's the story?

Full of pain and self-doubt over his own actions toward his unstable friend Ariel, Evan begins receiving cryptic photos and messages from some anonymous source. The photos -- of Evan, Ariel, and places where Ariel and her friends have been -- stir up fresh feelings of pain and confusion as Evan and Ariel's former boyfriend, Jack, try to make sense of what happened between them, and what the nameless photographer is trying to tell them.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

EVERY YOU, EVERY ME is emo with a capital E, but it's also a terrifically relatable and powerful book for teens. The tortured narrator, Evan, suffers even more than his friends can know, and Levithan uses text strike-outs to reveal the feelings his character struggles to hide. Jonathan Farmer's photos are also extremely effective: Some are overexposed, some are small, some are clear -- serving to further explore what is revealed and what is concealed. And the very idea of each of us showing different selves to different people is something almost any teen reader can identify with.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the concept related by the title Every You, Every Me: that there's more than one version of each person, and we know only the self that our friends reveal to us. Other friends might know that same person very differently. Do you show a different self to different friends, or to your peers vs. adults?

  • For much of the novel, Evan feels responsible for what happened to Ariel. Did he and Jack do the right thing? Help your kids understand that one friend can't "save" another.

  • One of the most fascinating aspects of this novel is the way it's constructed. The photos, and the idea of the photos, create more mystery than they solve; and the crossed-out passages let the reader see another side of Evan. What do you think the photos add to the book? What does the reader learn from the parts that are crossed out?

Book details

Author:David Levithan
Illustrator:Jonathan Farmer
Genre:Friendship
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Knopf
Publication date:September 13, 2011
Number of pages:256
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17

This review of Every You, Every Me was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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