Every Day/David Levithan: Reflections

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Last Friday evening I joined David Levithan, Eliot Schrefer, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Ellen Hopkins for an evening of books and talk at Children's Book World, Haverford, PA.  That was then, celebrated here.

Today I'm celebrating Every Day, the new novel from which David read that evening.  You can tell from the way a writer reads how invested he or she is in the work.  David Levithan is fully invested. 

He has a right to be.  With Every Day he has crafted a book with an original premise, placed a likable narrator named A at its heart, and wondered what it would be like to wake up each morning in the body of another.  To be a boy, then a girl.  To be angry, then peaceful.  To be forsaken, to be depressed, to be the football king, to be his twin.  To be all these things on the outside, a succession of traits and 'tudes, while all along holding utterly true to the inherent A-ness of A.  To be an impermanent self falling permanently in love.  What would that be like?  And could anyone in the world love this body-swapping soul so much that appearances won't ultimately matter?

The plot carries forward.  Love is at risk.  One of the borrowed bodies gets a little miffed, exposing a raw seam in the universe.  Every Day is clever, but it's more than that. It is a portal—enveloping and philosophical.  It asks questions that have no answers and forces us to live with that.

Why is David Levithan so popular that he had to stand on a Friday night in a Main Line bookstore to see all the way back to the last row in the crowd?  Why do his fans know his birthday, in a snap, and tout his novels with religious fervor, and send the T-shirt makers into a LeviFan frenzy?  It has something to do with who David Levithan is.  It has to do with his transcending kindness, a quality that A believes (rightly) is so much more powerful than simply being nice.  David Levithan writes from a moral center.  He encourages his readers to think brightly, like this (the xxx's here to avoid spoiling anything for future readers):
Every person is a possibility.  The hopeless romantics feel it most acutely, but even for others, the only way to keep going is to see every person as a possibility.  The more I see the xxx that the world reflects back at him, the more of a possibility he seems.  His possibility is grounded in the things that mean the most to me. Kindness.  Creativity.  Engagement in the world.  Engagement in the possibilities of the people around him.
 Possibility.  It's almost political.


Liviania said...

Every Day is such an amazing book. I just love the optimism of it.

Amy said...

I was really struck by that part about the difference between kindness and being nice as well.

it was definitely an interesting read!

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