So, before I start my review, there are a few things you should know:
1. I was a huuuuge fan of David Levithan when I was in high school.
2. I have not read Every Day.
3. I did not expect that Netgalley would actually approve me for an ARC of this book, but that’s a thing that happened.
So I was going back and forth, should I read Every Day before starting Another Day? The introduction to Another Day says it’s not necessary, but reviews say it is. It was such a dilemma for me that I didn’t start reading this book until about a month after I was approved. And I did it without reading its predecessor, which was probably a bad idea. Not that I felt I was missing anything from the plot, but I felt I was missing an emotional connection to the characters.
In Another Day, we follow Rhiannon through a perfect day with her otherwise cranky, distant, rude, awful boyfriend. For just one day, he’s attentive, caring, actually seems to love her. They have a beautiful adventure, but for some reason, every day afterward, he gets upset with her when she mentions it. Justin gets upset with her a lot, actually.
Then strange things start happening. She meets a guy at a party. A guy she has an instant connection with. A guy who introduces himself as a cousin of her friend. A guy she later finds out is absolutely not her friend’s cousin. A guy she never sees again.
She emails back and forth with this mystery guy, and eventually sets up a meeting. But the guy doesn’t show up. Instead, some other person shows up. Rhiannon is confused.
It turns out that this mystery person – who has no gender – goes by “A” and has the unfortunate circumstances of hopping from one body to the next each day. Can Rhiannon handle something like that, never knowing who A will be? What happens when A is in the body of a female, or in the body of someone she doesn’t find attractive? How much of love is the emotional connection, and how much is the physical package?
An awful lot of reviewers have complained about Rhiannon’s character, calling her spineless, whiny, clingy, weak, whatever. You know what I think? I think she’s a really, really realistic picture of a teenage girl. Yes, she lets Justin get away with being an absolute jerk. And why? Because her self-esteem is terribly low. She thinks that Justin is the best that she can do. She’d rather be with someone who is awful to her than be alone. Is that sad? Yes, of course. But is it realistic? Unfortunately, yes. I can’t hold any of Rhiannon’s behavior against her, because she behaves like a normal teenage girl.
What I can do, though, is hold A’s behavior against him. (I’m going to refer to A as “him” because that’s what Rhiannon does.) It’s not A’s fault that he’s transported into the body of Rhiannon’s boyfriend. It’s his nature. He can’t help it. But A makes this big deal about how he tries not to interfere in someone’s life. He tries not to change things. He lives a day in their life and moves on to the next body. But somehow he can’t help but chase after Rhiannon after spending a day in Justin’s body. He continually seeks her out, making her feel guilty for not being attracted to him in all his bodies. He makes her feel guilty for not breaking up with Justin. It gets to the point that he is making his bodies skip school, or run away, just to see Rhiannon for a few minutes, very much not following his mantra to just live a day in their lives as they normally would. I honestly found A very frustrating and manipulative. I would probably feel differently if I’d read Every Day.
Oh, but the writing. The writing is beautiful, as I have come to expect from Levithan. And, since I’ve seen such mixed reviews, I did go ahead and buy Every Day. (Although I haven’t read it yet.) Maybe I’ll be able to better understand A’s actions after I read this story from his perspective.
So, in the end, I’m giving this sad, infuriating, open-ended book a three-star rating. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either.
Final rating: ★★★☆☆