Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. 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.
I liked this book from the start. We jump into the plot with Rhiannon right away, while A slowly reveals bits and pieces about himself. A has woken up in both male and female bodies, and has fallen in love with a boy before. I loved that everything about A was fluid, including his sexuality. In most novels, including paranormal YA, gay people don’t exist. Later, A mentions the friends of one of his bodies, and how half talked about girls, the other half (Chris and David) about boys. So that was a nice change, and A introduced it with no fanfare. He just wanted us to know he’d been in love before, that homosexuality exists in his body-jumping world. In spite of the day he spent with Rhiannon, though, he wakes up in a new body, just like normal. A is thrust into all sorts of horrible situations, from being in the body of an abusive boyfriend to being a sister watching her father beat her brother. Sometimes his days are normal, and he always tries to do the homework. He tries to keep his borrowed body safe, but in his third body post-Rhiannon, he decides he can’t stay away. In a way, I was reminded of Cas Lowood, of Anna Dressed in Blood fame, because the way A lets go is the same way Cas does. He meets people he likes, people who want to help him, people who get it, and Cas doesn’t want to be set apart anymore. This is what happens when A meets Rhiannon.
He begins misusing bodies though, and one in particular, Nathan, poses a risk to him. He opens up to Rhiannon who waffles between belief and disbelief. He meets more boys and girls who are average, who are angry, who want to die. It’s a little intense, every experience different but still human. The only thing I thought was silly was how A thought Nathan’s story could really lead to A. A doesn’t really exist, at least not physically. It’s hard to leave a paper trail when you’re mostly just spirit and personality. And I think A realizes that eventually, but it has never before dawned on him that he could commit the perfect murder. It takes some adjusting. Rhiannon is doing some adjusting as well. Her journey is almost as important as A’s, and I loved learning about her.
I really loved this novel, not just for A’s (mis)adventures, but also because Levithan infuses so much of my own worldview into it. I mentioned the gay characters above, but there’s also the time Levithan-as-A spend ruminating over the differences (and similarities) of western religion and then, on page 88 of the digital ARC says, “Race is different purely as a social construction, not as an inherent difference.” Levithan, through A’s voice and experiences, is teaching tolerance. Now, where are all those Wall Street Journal and Salon writers calling YA shallow? David Levithan (and Kendare Blake and Lisa McMann and so many others) proves that YA is not shallow or stupid, but can be incredibly apt and insightful. This is why I read YA as an almost 30-year-old, and this is why I think I always will. Don’t miss out on this one. I think it’s essential reading for everyone.