For those of you who didn’t already know, David Levithan’s Every Day is one of my favourite books. It’s a truly original and unique YA story that tells the story of the character A, who wakes up every single morning in someone else’s body, spending the day in their world, before hoping bodies again at midnight. The person A inhabits can be any ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and through that, Levithan uses the book to really explore the meaning of the self, who we really are when all our defining physical characteristics are stripped away. It’s a triumph of diversity, as well as a hauntingly bittersweet love story. When I heard he wanted to write a follow-up, I was ecstatic! When I heard it would be the same story as Every Day, but from the perspective of someone who experiences A from the outside, I was a bit more hesitant. Retreading old ground is risky business, but I liked the idea of viewing the story from a different perspective – and Another Day didn’t let down.
Rhiannon has been with Justin for so long that she’s able to look past his faults and flaws, past their arguments and the way he can lose his temper. She knows, somewhere deep down that he loves her, even if he very rarely shows it. Her friends think she could do better, but she knows otherwise – Justin is lost, confused and uncertain about everything in his changing world. Everything but her. One day, Justin seems different – more attentive and caring . He asks what she wants to do, and he listens to her in a way she’s never known him do before. They go to the beach and have a perfect, romantic day together, just talking and being themselves on the beach. It’s everything Rhiannon knows they can be. Except the next day, Justin is as surly and uncommunicative as ever, and she can’t figure out why. He only has vague memories of the beach, and he gets angry and defensive when she tries to bring it up. But then someone arrives to see Rhiannon – someone strangely familiar – and tells her that she never spent the day at the beach with Justin at all…
Levithan allows the reader to see a different side to his two main characters than we saw in Every Day here. Through A’s eyes, Rhiannon was this perfect, flawless girl who deserved nothing but a perfect, flawless love, but from inside Rhiannon’s head, we get a very different picture. We see her doubts and fears, and we see the things she thinks and feels with shame. We get to see her as a more complete person, full of shades of grey, than the black and white goddess she appears as in the first book. And, of course, through her eyes we get to see the naïve and almost childish nature of A, unable to comprehend that wishes and reality are two separate things. He becomes a more frustratingly idealistic character, and it’s clever how the roles aren’t just straight reversed from the first novel. I also liked that we got more insight into Justin from Rhiannon’s perspective. In Every Day, through the snapshot life of A, we see an aggressive bully who doesn’t appreciate his girlfriend at all, not like A can – but again, Rhiannon’s point of view is all about muddy waters and shades of grey. Justin is in pain, he’s struggling with life, and he doesn’t know how to ask for help, so he lashes out instead. There are moments of genuine tenderness from him in Another Day that really flesh out his character and make Rhiannon’s feelings for him more understandable.
Another Day is pretty philosophical, and while I understand it wants to look at ideas of identity and the importance of appearances, I felt like some of Rhiannon’s thoughts and feelings were a little bit… I dunno, overly thoughtful? But they’re fascinating none the less, and it allows the author the chance to ask some pretty big questions – like is love really all there is? Rhiannon struggles with her feelings towards A, who she loves unconditionally, with the feelings she has towards the different bodies A inhabits each day. She thinks of herself as not being a shallow person, but she can’t always love A in the same way when A is a girl, or a boy, or simply not someone she finds attractive. It looks at different kinds of love, both romantic and platonic, and it does it in a bold, stark and intelligent way, never removing the fact that what is on the outside really does matter – maybe not as much as what’s inside, but it still does.
Levithan’s writing is up to its usual standard, full of clever metaphors and sharp, intelligent turns of phrase, all underpinned with heart aching and down to Earth dialogue that’s full of breathless first love, lust and all kinds of other emotions. It has the same sense of whirring energy that his other works do, the kind of youthful energy that underpins great YA, but Another Day is laced with a melancholy, especially if you’ve read Every Day. A is hopeful and full of determination the first book, but this one is much more full of doubts and uncertainties, and it paints a great counterpoint to most upbeat, happy YA fiction.
All in all, Another Day is a wonderful book that made me cry, laugh and then cry again, but it didn’t sweep me away in the same way as Every Day. I’d recommend reading Every Day first, I think you’ll get a lot more out of this book if you’re already familiar with the story.
Thanks for Reading!