“I'm a firm believer that every person, young or old, has at least one good story to tell.”

11 August 2013

“I am a drifter, and as lonely as that can be, it is also remarkably freeing. I will never define myself in terms of anyone else. I will never feel the pressure of peers or the burden of parental expectation. I can view everyone as pieces of a whole, and focus on the whole, not the pieces. I have learned to observe, far better than most people observe. I am not blinded by the past or motivated by the future. I focus on the present because that is where I am destined to live.”

I spent all afternoon reading Every Day by David Levithan and like all other books of his that I read  The Lover's Dictionary, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (both co-written with Rachel Cohn) ― I felt compelled to finish them in one sitting because I got pulled in, completely immersed with the characters and their stories and I didn't want to float back to the surface until I have read everything.

And you know me, I love stories. This book has plenty of that as it offers not only A's and Rhiannon's stories, but also of those whose lives act as host for A day by day. You see, the premise of the novel is that A wakes up in a different body every day. It has always been like this; he wakes up and lives the life of his host, then leaves at midnight to wake up as a different person again the next day. It's stepping in another person's shoes. Literally. Never the same body twice, and always the same age as he is likely to be. In this case, 16. He has made peace with this and has even made rules: never get too attached, avoid being noticed, and do not interfere. He is okay with this, until he falls in love with Rhiannon, the girlfriend of Justin whose life he assumes on Day 5,994.
“The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations - all of them rearranging themselves so this precise, remarkable intersection could happen. In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is, you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be.”
From that point on, every life he inhabits becomes affected as his desire and need to be with Rhiannon overcome the rules he has set out for himself. To say that he is treading on dangerous ground is an understatement.

While reading it, I couldn't help but feel my heart breaking for A. Can you imagine not knowing where you came from and not having a real family to speak of? Not having friends who know you for who you really are? Not being able to celebrate little but personal victories with someone, or even having someone to share the smallest sentiments with? Not in a way that they or his host will remember, anyway. “I am like the fish in the aquarium, thinking in a different language, adapting to a life that’s not my natural habitat. I am the people in the other cars, each with his or her own story, but passing too quickly to be noticed or understood.” For someone who may be an introvert but still rely on human interaction, that sounds like such a lonely way to live. Waking up absolutely loved up one morning, then waking up to the horrors of a debilitating mental illness the next? That's too much responsibility to thrust on someone. I find it exhausting to wake up in the morning sometimes, even more so if I find I'd have to act as someone else entirely every single day of my existence.

Do not read this book if you don't want to suspend disbelief. Do not read this book if you want to know how A is able to do that and how it can be stopped as [SPOILER ALERT] this novel doesn't really explain it. Do not read this book if you want answers, because, as what I have also found to be applicable in several aspects of my life, "Answerless questions can destroy you. Move on." Do not read this book if you do not want to read about 16 year olds talk about mature stuff.

But definitely read this book if you like being lost in a world of words; David Levithan has a way with metaphors that make you want to read a particular phrase or section again and again because it's just so achingly beautiful - the kind that can make you feel "the feels." Read this if you want something different and complex, something that veers away from the dime-a-dozen chick lit and cheap lit disguised as erotica these days. Read this if you are mystified about the idea of borrowed lives. Read this if you are a romantic yet feel that love - and the idea of love - has to be grounded on some semblance of reality.
"I want love to conquer all. But love can't conquer anything. It can't do anything on its own. It relies on us to do the conquering on its behalf."
Read this book on a lazy, rainy afternoon and savor A's story.

PS: If you've read and enjoyed it, you might want to read Six Earlier Days, too. It's a short prequel available online that gives a handful of stories from the 5,993 days before A met Rhiannon.

PPS: There are still so many passages from the book I'd like to quote here but I guess I'll just save them for future posts. ;)

PPPS: The title of this post was, as what you might have figured already, lifted directly from the book.

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