Love and limits: NAU Reads selection, Every Day, an insight into relationships and self
BY KATHLEEN KOMOS —
Most kids have enough to worry about as teenagers: puberty, high school, relationships, acne. However, each morning brings an entirely new set of problems to “A”, the genderless character in David Levithan’s novel Every Day. A becomes a different person once midnight hits and must live out one full day while using that person’s body.
This kind of life does not come with a handbook, and A must navigate through this strange existence while trying not to mess up the life of the girl or boy A inhabits for the day. The challenge becomes much more difficult when A falls in love with Rhiannon and struggles to continue seeing her after no longer staying in her boyfriend’s body.
Every Day was selected to be NAU Reads book, which means that the entire 2013-2014 class will be reading it at the same time. The goal of NAU Reads is to foster unity among the first-year students by allowing them to share an experience of reading the same book. In their English classes, discussions will be fostered around A’s journey of self-discovery.
“It makes me very interested to see what conversations it will spark,” Levithan said. “For Every Day, there were two questions I wanted to answer. First, what would a person be like if he/she had no set body of life — meaning, no race, no gender, no parents, no set friends, no religion, no other social construction. Who would we be, if we weren’t defined by our bodies and our backgrounds? And second, what would it be like to fall in love with someone who changed every day? Can we love someone truly just for who they are inside?”
These are the sorts of questions that freshman students might find relevant as they make it through their first year. For some, it is a chance to discover their racial, sexual or spiritual identity. For others, it is a chance to break away from certain relationships to form new ones.
Although they may not be able to relate directly to someone who has to live every day in a new body, there are some days where they might feel like completely different people. As finals hit, this feeling might get stronger and having a story like Every Day where A has no idea what is coming next could be a great source of relief.
And much like his character, Levithan wasn’t always certain about what would come next in his story.
“My process is to not really have a process,” Levithan said. “I just write the story to figure out what the story is. With Every Day this was especially crucial—I didn’t want to overthink it, so just as A has no idea what the next day will bring, I had no idea what the next chapter would bring until I was there,” he said. “Every book comes from a different place. Strangely, Every Day is the only novel I’ve written where I can’t pinpoint the exact source. I just thought of the premise one day while walking to work—’Hmm… waking up every day in a different body and a different life’—and then filed it away. Some time later, it could have been a year or two, I was wondering what to write next, and the idea resurfaced. I ran with it,”
Levithan is the author of more than 16 books. He was the co-author Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist with fellow young adult author, Rachel Cohn. He also co-authored the novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, author of Looking for Alaska. His personal website is www.davidlevithan.com.
Levithan will be speaking at NAU on September 16 at the Ardrey Auditorium. Tickets are free, but they are required. Tickets will be available at the Central Ticketing Office.