Every Day (Anglais) Broché – 10 septembre 2013
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I wake up.
Immediately I have to figure out who I am. It’s not just the body--opening my eyes and discovering whether the skin on my arm is light or dark, whether my hair is long or short, whether I’m fat or thin, boy or girl, scarred or smooth. The body is the easiest thing to adjust to, if you’re used to waking up in a new one each morning. It’s the life, the context of the body, that can be hard to grasp.
Every day I am someone else. I am myself--I know I am myself--but I am also someone else.
It has always been like this.
The information is there. I wake up, open my eyes, understand that it is a new morning, a new place. The biography kicks in, a welcome gift from the not‑me part of the mind. Today I am Justin. Somehow I know this--my name is Justin--and at the same time I know that I’m not really Justin, I’m only borrowing his life for a day. I look around and know that this is his room. This is his home. The alarm will go off in seven minutes.
I’m never the same person twice, but I’ve certainly been this type before. Clothes everywhere. Far more video games than books. Sleeps in his boxers. From the taste of his mouth, a smoker. But not so addicted that he needs one as soon as he wakes up.
“Good morning, Justin,” I say. Checking out his voice. Low. The voice in my head is always different.
Justin doesn’t take care of himself. His scalp itches. His eyes don’t want to open. He hasn’t gotten much sleep.
Already I know I’m not going to like today.
It’s hard being in the body of someone you don’t like, because you still have to respect it. I’ve harmed people’s lives in the past, and I’ve found that every time I slip up, it haunts me. So I try to be careful.
From what I can tell, every person I inhabit is the same age as me. I don’t hop from being sixteen to being sixty. Right now, it’s only sixteen. I don’t know how this works. Or why. I stopped trying to figure it out a long time ago. I’m never going to figure it out, any more than a normal person will figure out his or her own existence. After a while, you have to be at peace with the fact that you simply are. There is no way to know why. You can have theories, but there will never be proof.
I can access facts, not feelings. I know this is Justin’s room, but I have no idea if he likes it or not. Does he want to kill his parents in the next room? Or would he be lost without his mother coming in to make sure he’s awake? It’s impossible to tell. It’s as if that part of me replaces the same part of whatever person I’m in. And while I’m glad to be thinking like myself, a hint every now and then of how the other person thinks would be helpful. We all contain mysteries, especially when seen from the inside.
The alarm goes off. I reach for a shirt and some jeans, but something lets me see that it’s the same shirt he wore yesterday. I pick a different shirt. I take the clothes with me to the bathroom, dress after showering. His parents are in the kitchen now. They have no idea that anything is different.
Sixteen years is a lot of time to practice. I don’t usually make mistakes. Not anymore.
I read his parents easily: Justin doesn’t talk to them much in the morning, so I don’t have to talk to them. I have grown accustomed to sensing expectation in others, or the lack of it. I shovel down some cereal, leave the bowl in the sink without washing it, grab Justin’s keys and go.
Yesterday I was a girl in a town I’d guess to be two hours away. The day before, I was a boy in a town three hours farther than that. I am already forgetting their details. I have to, or else I will never remember who I really am.
Justin listens to loud and obnoxious music on a loud and obnoxious station where loud and obnoxious DJs make loud and obnoxious jokes as a way of getting through the morning. This is all I need to know about Justin, really. I access his memory to show me the way to school, which parking space to take, which locker to go to. The combination. The names of the people he knows in the halls.
Sometimes I can’t go through these motions. I can’t bring myself to go to school, maneuver through the day. I’ll say I’m sick, stay in bed and read a few books. But even that gets tiresome after a while, and I find myself up for the challenge of a new school, new friends. For a day.
As I take Justin’s books out of his locker, I can feel someone hovering on the periphery. I turn, and the girl standing there is transparent in her emotions--tentative and expectant, nervous and adoring. I don’t have to access Justin to know that this is his girlfriend. No one else would have this reaction to him, so unsteady in his presence. She’s pretty, but she doesn’t see it. She’s hiding behind her hair, happy to see me and unhappy to see me at the same time.
Her name is Rhiannon. And for a moment--just the slightest beat--I think that, yes, this is the right name for her. I don’t know why. I don’t know her. But it feels right.
This is not Justin’s thought. It’s mine. I try to ignore it. I’m not the person she wants to talk to.
“Hey,” I say, keeping it casual.
“Hey,” she murmurs back.
She’s looking at the floor, at her inked‑in Converse. She’s drawn cities there, skylines around the soles. Something’s happened between her and Justin, and I don’t know what it is. It’s probably not something that Justin even recognized at the time.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
I see the surprise on her face, even as she tries to cover it. This is not something that Justin normally asks.
And the strange thing is: I want to know the answer. The fact that he wouldn’t care makes me want it more.
“Sure,” she says, not sounding sure at all.
I find it hard to look at her. I know from experience that beneath every peripheral girl is a central truth. She’s hiding hers away, but at the same time she wants me to see it. That is, she wants Justin to see it. And it’s there, just out of my reach. A sound waiting to be a word.
She is so lost in her sadness that she has no idea how visible it is. I think I understand her--for a moment, I presume to understand her--but then, from within this sadness, she surprises me with a brief flash of determination. Bravery, even.
Shifting her gaze away from the floor, her eyes matching mine, she asks, “Are you mad at me?”
I can’t think of any reason to be mad at her. If anything, I am mad at Justin, for making her feel so diminished. It’s there in her body language. When she is around him, she makes herself small.
“No,” I say. “I’m not mad at you at all.”
I tell her what she wants to hear, but she doesn’t trust it. I feed her the right words, but she suspects they’re threaded with hooks.
This is not my problem; I know that. I am here for one day. I cannot solve anyone’s boyfriend problems. I should not change anyone’s life.
I turn away from her, get my books out, close the locker. She stays in the same spot, anchored by the profound, desperate loneliness of a bad relationship.
“Do you still want to get lunch today?” she asks.
The easy thing would be to say no. I often do this: sense the other person’s life drawing me in, and run in the other direction.
But there’s something about her--the cities on her shoes, the flash of bravery, the unnecessary sadness--that makes me want to know what the word will be when it stops being a sound. I have spent years meeting people without ever knowing them, and on this morning, in this place, with this girl, I feel the faintest pull of wanting to know. And in a moment of either weakness or bravery on my own part, I decide to follow it. I decide to find out more.
“Absolutely,” I say. “Lunch would be great.”
Again, I read her: What I’ve said is too enthusiastic. Justin is never enthusiastic.
“No big deal,” I add.
She’s relieved. Or, at least, as relieved as she’ll allow herself to be, which is a very guarded form of relief. By accessing, I know she and Justin have been together for over a year. That’s as specific as it gets. Justin doesn’t remember the exact date.
She reaches out and takes my hand. I am surprised by how good this feels.
“I’m glad you’re not mad at me,” she says. “I just want everything to be okay.”
I nod. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: We all want everything to be okay. We don’t even wish so much for fantastic or marvelous or outstanding. We will happily settle for okay, because most of the time, okay is enough.
The first bell rings.
“I’ll see you later,” I say.
Such a basic promise. But to Rhiannon, it means the world.
Revue de presse
Kirkus Reviews Best of Teen's Books 2012
Booklist Best of Children's Books 2012
"Fresh, unique, funny, and achingly honest, Levithan brilliantly explores the adolescent conundrum of not feeling like oneself, and not knowing where one belongs. I didn't just read this book — I inhaled it." —Jodi Picoult, NYT bestselling author of Lone Wolf and Between the Lines
Entertainment Weekly, August 22, 2012:
"Rich in wisdom and wit...Levithan keeps the pages turning not only with ingenious twists on his central conceit but with A's hard-earned pieces of wisdom about identity, isolation, and love. Every Day has the power to teach a bully empathy by answering an essential question: What's it like to be you and not me — even if it's just for one day?"
New York Times Book Review, August 26, 2012:
"It demonstrates Levithan's talent for empathy, which is paired in the best parts of the book with a persuasive optimism about the odds for happiness and for true love."
Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2012:
"It's the rare book that challenges gender presumptions in a way that's as entertaining as it is unexpected and, perhaps most important, that's relatable to teens who may not think they need sensitivity training when it comes to sexual orientation and the nature of true love. ‘Every Day' is precisely such a book...A story that is always alluring, oftentimes humorous and much like love itself — splendorous."
MTV Hollywood Crush, September 28, 2012:
"Thoughtful and fascinating...A study in the most real and human of concerns: the importance of empathy, the value of friends and family, and the beauty of permanence that we have the luxury of taking for granted."
Boston Globe, September 15, 2012:
"Ambitious and provocative...we’re not ready to let A go."
OUT Magazine, December 2012:
"One of the most inventive young adult novels of the year."
Romantic Times, October 2012:
"Levithan is a literary genius. His style of writing is brilliant — practically flawless... Reading A’s journey to make love last, in a world that is always changing, is an experience I hope everyone gets to share."
Starred Review, School Library Journal, September 2012:
"Every step of the narrative feels real and will elicit a strong emotional response from readers and offer them plenty of fodder for speculation, especially regarding the nature of love.”
Starred Review, Booklist, July 1, 2012:
“Levithan has created an irresistible premise that is sure to captivate readers….
[Every Day] is a study in style, an exercise in imagination, and an opportunity for readers themselves to occupy another life: that of A, himself.”
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2012:
“An awe-inspiring, thought-provoking reminder that love reaches beyond physical appearances or gender.”
Starred Review, Shelf Awareness, September 7, 2012:
"Levithan's unusual love story will make teens think about how the core of the soul never changes. A speaks of faith, love, dreams and death with a wisdom derived from thousands of lives visited over 16 years and firsthand proof of how much humans share rather than what sets them apart."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September 2012:
"This unconventional romance considers some fascinating and unexpected questions about the nature of identity, consciousness, love, and gender...Readers will identify with A’s profound longing for connection, but they’ll also be intrigued by the butterfly effect A’s presence may have on numerous other teens who make brief but memorable appearances."
The Horn Book, November 2012:
"Brilliantly conceived...[Levithan] shapes the narrative into a profound exploration of what it means to love someone."
Letter Blocks, the BN Parents & Educators blog, August 23, 2012:
"A definite crowd-pleaser."
The L Magazine, August 29, 2012:
"The premise allows for stimulating parallels: A’s experience is both like the writer’s, who inhabits the consciousnesses of random characters, and the adolescent’s, who tries on myriad identities."
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"A" wakes up on a different body every day. Which makes A lack a specific gender and race and physical appearance. Which ends up being a wake-up call to us all. What is it that makes you love a person? This novel really made my mind go round and round while reading. It's so satisfying to read something so powerful and that actually changes you some. I can't imagine how mind-blowing this would have been if I'd read it as a teen.
Levithan is one of my top favorite authors because you can tell by reading just one of his books that he has a passion for language. He savors words and plays with the them in a way no other author I've read can. In many of his novels, he gives us that originality to his concept too. This is one of those.
If you pick up just one book this year, let it be this one. "Highly recommended" is an understatement. Hands-down one of my top favorite books of 2012.
I completely admit that I bought this book solely because of the idea. The idea that a person wakes up in a different body every day, always apart of the world but never truly in it - that interested me. I think a lot of the ideas in this novel are fascinating. And, I do think it could have brought up a lot of difficult questions. Sadly, the novel falls flat in that regard. There is the story line with Poole and Nathan, but that quickly goes somewhere, than ends up going nowhere important. Yes, A learns something, but it's not enough to be a solid ending to that story line. (Maybe Levithan is leaving it open to a possible book two?)
I liked the ideas presented in the novel, but I didn't care for `A'. The insta-love `A' felt for Rhiannon seemed obsessive and borderline creepy. It seemed the only reasons `A' loved Rhiannon was because she was always kind and because she needed to be saved from her jerkass boyfriend, Justin. That's it. I didn't buy this love story, and as I said, I found it obsessive and borderline creepy. At least Rhiannon was unsure of things; at least she acted normal. I nearly cheered when she told `A' that it was wrong of `A' to highjack peoples' bodies and daily lives just to spend time with her. Maybe that day was going to be important? Instead of passing that test or meeting someone special that poor person's body is at a coffee house hours from his/her home. Uncool `A'. Uncool.
Then you have the whole Nathan thing. `A' seemed to go back and forth on if Nathan was a responsibility or not. Nathan was a responsibility, because `A' broke the rules and didn't do what needed to be done. I hated that Nathan was pushed aside as often as he was.
What else? Oh, yes. Levithan is overly preachy isn't he? I'm a friend and ally of the LGBTQ community, but the way `A' kept going on and on and on about love being a soul thing and about sex and gender not mattering in the long run - yes, agree. But . . . could you not mention it every other chapter? I get your point - no need to beat me over the head with it. Love is beautiful, got it. While I'm on this, there were a couple of chapters that really pissed me off. The one where `A' is in the obese young man - it felt rather sizeist and made me see flames. Actually, `A' came off as a bit of a jerk a lot in this novel, especially in the way `A' viewed others. Like Justin. Yes, Justin is probably a jerk, but I felt like he was a jerk just to be a jerk. Just so `A' could "save" Rhiannon.
So, let's look at it. Five stars:
Minus a half star for all the preachy moments. Minus half a star for `A' being a jerk and for the sizeist chapter. Minus a star and a half for `A''s insta-love and creepy obsessive behavior about/toward Rhiannon. Minus half a story for the way the Nathan/Poole/A story line was dealt with. That's minus three stars.
Total score: 2/5 stars. I'm so disappointed! (On the side note: a lot of the people 'A' entered seemed really interesting. Could we get some stories about them?)
So I was intrigued when I then attended a bookseller retreat at which editor Dick Jackson and librarian Michael Cart presented on teens and young adult literature, and talked about how developing adolescents wake up and reinvent themselves on a daily basis.
EVERY DAY employs this developmental cornerstone in a novel fashion. This is the story of a sixteen year old boy who has no body of his own. For his entire life, he has awakened each and every day in the body of a different boy or girl his own age and lived that person's life for a day. He has learned through trial-and-error what works for surviving this day-by-day existence. He has learned to steadfastly maintain an identity of his own, a boy known to himself as "A," primarily through having an email account in which he can write himself, when possible, and store his memories.
EVERY DAY is the love story of A and Rhiannon, the mistreated girlfriend of one of the sixteen year-old boys (Justin) in whose body A finds himself for a day. Falling in love during an afternoon at the beach with this young woman who, thanks to him, is, for one day, treated well by her boyfriend, A returns to his home du jour and saves in his own account the login and password to Justin's email, and Rhiannon's email address. Thus, in the succeeding days, A is able to see what Justin is up to with Rhiannon and then take advantage of opportunities to see Rhiannon again: a day of shadowing her at her school in a girl's body and an evening of dancing with her at a party in a (pretending to be gay) boy's body. Through these encounters A comes to be sure that he wants to see Rhiannon day after day. Collecting sufficient information so as to be able to approach and present to Rhiannon a believable case of who he is, A eventually makes his move, which makes Rhiannon the first person in the world to know that he, A, actually exists.
But, in the process, A slips up. He has always been careful about covering his tracks, clearing out the history on every computer he uses. But he forgets to do so with the computer of the boy in whose body he danced with Rhiannon. That boy was found by the cops asleep in his car, far from home. That boy finds his computer used, wants to get to the bottom of what happened to him that day, and begins emailing A.
Talk about a realm of possibility! Author-editor David Levithan has awed me before, and this unique, captivating, and heart achingly honest teen love story is one more enormous leap forward for him. A convincing and mind-boggling tale, EVERY DAY has me imagining the impossible to imagine.
Here's the story in a nutshell: "A" is a teen who wakes up every day in a new body. It's always age appropriate and in the same general geographical area "A" goes to sleep in. He knows no one else like him, and has no one in his life on a permanent basis. "A" lives by basic rules he's created of not impacting the lives of those he inhabits, until he meets and falls in love with Rhiannon.
Throughout the book the daily details of the different lives he experiences are recounted. "A" is sometimes male, sometimes female, and sometimes gay or transgender. "A" often lives out the relationships that the body he's in would be involved with. "A" lives life always trying to be with Rhiannon, and trying to get her to love him/her.
Here are some of my observations:
- The author did something unusual that didn't work for me. He started the book with a letter to the Reader. He tells how this story was conceived and and how he formed it. He explains that when he started writing, "he had no real clue about where it would go". He just started with questions and wrote the novel to find answers.
First, for me this took away from the fantasy of the story. When I read a book, I like to get lost in it and to imagine it's real. After reading the author's letter, all I could think when I started the story was that this was the author's voice speaking - not the character's. It took maybe 90-100 pages to get somewhat past that.
Secondly, I love books that have well developed stories and characters. This book just seemed to ramble on without a destination, and without much of interest happening. His letter to the reader explained this.
- It wasn't that interesting. The premise had promise, but it was just rather dull. Each very short chapter was a day in the life of "A". So each chapter starts with "A" figuring out who "A" is inhabiting, and going through the motions of that body's life while trying to see Rhiannon.
For me that was boring and tedious. It's like visiting with your relative who talks about the weather, what toothpaste they use,and how to get to the new McDonald's down the street. And it happened over and over. I'm guessing the author was trying to show something along the lines of how diverse each person's experience of life is, but it turned into one story after the other scratching the surface, with no real character development.
- The relationship with Rhiannon was not realistic in my view. "A" was basically stalking her (as one other reviewer noted). I didn't ever feel her love for him. I do think the fact that "A" had a friend for the first time in his life was well developed, but the love between them was not.
- A point of observation - The book is infused with an atheist philosophy throughout. Some people may like this, but some will not.
I just can't recommend this book (Sorry Author).
EDIT: This is the first novel I have read by author/editor David Levithan, and I was blown away by this story. Logic need not apply, not that it matters, since this book is so fascinating in its ideas. Mr. Levithan presents a character who is neither male or female, who just is, and is able to create a beautiful voice which brings the lives of different people together. A is flawed, but is so relatable, with an interesting tale to tell. Rhiannon, while equally flawed, was a character that could be empathized with. These two discover the different facets of love together. There is also an interesting subplot involving one of the persons A occupied. This was expertly woven into the book.
The narration is never preachy but there is a message about love and what it means to love and care for someone for who they are. The love story presented here is not obsessive or demeaning with the "I can treat you like garbage because I secretly 'love you'" vibe, which is an unfortunate trend in books for young adults. This is the type that builds you up. I can't thank Mr. Levithan enough for restoring my faith in the young adult love story genre.
Some readers might be turned off by the idea of this book. Some might find the jumping around from body to body disorienting (I did sometimes). However, this book is beautifully told and should not be missed. Highly recommended!