Length: 336 pages
Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
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.
Here’s What I Thought:
Having read a few David Levithan collaborations over the past year, I was excited to finally get to read this title, and I wasn’t disappointed by it. Like previous Levithan books I’ve read, it has a quick pace and interesting characters, but it also left me with a lot of think about. The character of the narrator, A., is so unique and and yet in many ways such a reflection of what is beautiful and common about the human experience that I couldn’t help but appreciate what he has to show through revealing the story of his life so far.
At first, A.’s situation, waking up in a new body every day, seems like the stuff of fantasy. To be able to jump from person to person, to experience life through so many different forms, would appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to be someone else for a change. Yet A. is always himself, even as he can access the knowledge and memories of the person whose body he is inhabiting. He is the one in control of his own actions, so in a sense he is always the same person, as he has his own unique soul.
As he tells his story, though, the downside of such an existence starts to become evident. He can never become close to anyone–he has no family and friends of his own. At the age of 16, he is completely alone in the world, as no one really knows him. This finally starts to change when he meets Rhiannon, then Nathan, two individuals who will eventually get to know the real A.
Although I use the ‘he’ pronoun to describe him, A. is neither male nor female. He’s just a soul, and as such his experiences are not shaded by gender identification. He says himself that some days he feels like a boy and others a girl. He is attracted to both boys and girls, depending on the host body in which he finds himself.
One morning he awakens to find himself in the body of Vic, who is biologically a girl but gendered as a boy, and the way A. describes her feelings are eerily reflective of his own situation, of being neither one thing nor the other. This fact is easy for him to accept but at the same time difficult for others (like Rhiannon) to understand. As Vic thinks:
I still believed everyone when they said I had to be one or the other. Nobody was telling me a different story, and I was too young to think for myself. I had yet to learn that when it came to gender, I was both and neither.
It is an awful thing to be betrayed by your body. And it’s lonely, because you feel you can’t talk about it. You feel it’s something between you and your body. You feel it’s a battle you never win…and yet you fight it day after day, and it wears you down. Even if you try to ignore it, the energy it takes to ignore it will exhaust you.
Although A. is compassionate towards the people whose bodies he inhabits and tries to live their lives as best he can for the day he borrows them, he is also betrayed by the fact that he has no body of his own and is dependent upon living through others. He can’t have what he really wants, close personal relationships, because he always looks different and can never stay in one place for too long. Even Rhiannon, who does come to love him, can’t accept the fact that A. is always leaving her.
The resolution of the story, which brings in a sinister character who appears to want to manipulate A.’s abilities, felt a bit contrived, but I honestly couldn’t imagine how things were going to work out for A. and Rhiannon. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. Recommended.
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