Tag Archives: david levithan

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day by David Levithan (unabridged audiobook read by Alex McKenna; 8.5 hrs on 7 discs): I have very mixed feelings about this book. It says some very good things about acceptance, sexuality, and gender identity. It also says some very bad things about how to pursue a love interest. Every morning, A wakes up in the body of a different person, able to access their memories but not their emotions or consciousness. (Note: though A has no gender and inhabits both male and female bodies with equal ease, I will use male pronouns to make typing less cumbersome.) The body is always roughly his same age, and he lives in it only until midnight before moving on. (Though the switch happens at midnight, A always wakes up the next morning, implying that these kids never stay up past midnight or something.) He has no control over these switches, and mostly acts in order to make as little impact on the body’s life as possible – until one day when he inhabits the body of Justin, boyfriend of Rhiannon. A falls in love with Rhiannon, becomes convinced that she loves him too, and turns the lives of his subsequent hosts upside-down in his attempts to win her over, pretty much stalking her until she gives in. A few times I wanted to shout at A, “Just leave her alone already!” It was like A was completely incapable of having a conversation with Rhiannon that didn’t focus on his love for her and how Justin wasn’t good enough for her and blah blah blah. Yes, I know that teenagers are obsessive like that, but it got kind of tiresome. I wish the story had done more with Nathan and the Reverend, exploring the science fiction side of A’s existence as a wandering soul, but its narrow focus on the complicated romance rarely wavered. On the bright side, the writing was superb, and A’s experiences in so many different kinds of lives (from drug addict to immigrant house cleaner to transgendered person) were compelling, believable, and memorable. I also did really appreciate A’s views of gender identity and unconditional love, and Rhiannon’s reactions were quite realistic. Yes, there are people out there who could fall in love with someone who looked completely different every single day, but could you? The ending was dissatisfying, though I suppose it was good that A finally appeared to mature a little bit, even if he still couldn’t seem to muster any respect for his host bodies. I kind of hope there’s a sequel, if only to explore the premise a bit more and lay off the teen romance a tad.

A note on the audio: McKenna’s raspy voice took some getting used to, but ultimately it really worked.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Marly’s Ghost by David Levithan and Brian Selznick

Marly’s Ghost by David Levithan, illustrated by Brian Selznick: In this “remix” of Dickens’s classic Christmas Carol, teenaged Ben must cope with his girlfriend’s death by being visited by the spirits of love past, present, and future. The idea was clever, and it was fun picking out which characters were which from the original story, but the re-used dialogue was out of place, coming across as stilted and meaningless. If Levithan had either always had the characters speaking like Dickens or paraphrased the original lines, it would have been smoother. All the same, I enjoyed this short book, and the illustrations were nice.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan: The paths of two teenagers, both named Will Grayson, cross one fateful night. Their stories are told in alternating chapters, and their personalities (and writing styles) are different enough that it’s easy to keep track of who’s narrating. But despite the title and narrators, this book is in many ways more about the larger-than-life Tiny Cooper and his struggles with identity, love, and musical theater. I loved and empathized with all the characters. I was at times horrified and delighted at the various twists and turns in the plot, always wanting more more more. And this is one book I wish came with a soundtrack so I can actually hear all the songs in Tiny Dancer/Hold Me Closer. In short, I was completely and utterly sucked in. This was my gym book – that is, the book that lived in my gym bag to be read while on the exercise bike – and I found that I didn’t want to get off the bike when my thirty minutes were up. Now that, my friend, is the mark of an engrossing book. I’ve already added pretty much the entire combined catalogs of Green and Levithan to my wish list, and I hope fervently that they write another book together. Highly recommended.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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