I’m sure most people who will pick up Another Day have read Every Day. I have not. This of course means that my experience is probably separate from the majority. I suspect that reading the series in this order might actually be preferable as I’ve seen a lot of comments echoing some form of “This book is not as good as the original” and “Telling Rhiannon’s side was unnecessary.” I’ve been spared from any such sentiments.
(The entire time I was reading this book I had Fleetwood Mac on loop in the back of my head. Rhiiiannnonn.)
The plot: Rhiannon has a very shitty boyfriend. A very shitty boyfriend who borders on emotionally abusive. Their relationship isn’t always awful, but a more times than not it is. She stays because… it’s complicated. Then one day she and her boyfriend have this totally awesome, amazing, blissful day, and then the next day he goes back to being his usual crappy self. Turns out someone was borrowing his meat-bag for the day.
This person who was borrowing his body for the day is A. He doesn’t have a body of his own, and lives every day in a new body. He has no choice about this, and no choice about the body he inhabits. Technically he is genderless, but Rhiannon refers to him as male. It took this one magical day for A to fall in love with Rhiannon and for the first time in his life he reveals to someone that he is, in fact, a body-swapping entity.
Which brings me to this book’s star quality. Through Rhiannon I get to see my own mental struggles with all the things A calls into question. On the minor scale, she wrestles with the nature of owning a body, having a home, family, and friends, of having one steady source of memories, our need to classify people. She also takes on the big question: can you love just a soul, and not the body it comes in? Her brain-gymnastics gets my neurons firing. And then there is the age old question: how much adversity can love really conquer? There are no easy solutions. A cannot change his nature any more than Rhiannon could change hers and A’s lack of a physical body is a giant strain on their relationship. Levithan doesn’t sugar coat the facts for you. He does, however, leave room for a sequel which I am not sure he did in Every Day.
Usually I am not a fan of books telling the same story from a separate perspective. Usually there is a reason this person wasn’t the main character and that is because there isn’t enough of an impact to their perspective. Usually. This time I think a case can be made for Rhiannon. In the grand scheme of the plot Rhiannon and A spend very little time in each other’s company. There isn’t going to be a ton of repeat in observed event. More importantly A’s life differs so much from the usual human experience of having a body to call your own that it makes for variety.
Let’s also take a moment to appreciate the Rhiannon’s awful relationship with Justin. I can’t remember the last time I read YA that featured an unhealthy romantic relationship. (That’s a lie. Yes I do. It was Dreamland by Sarah Dessen and I read it in 2004… Point stands.) I am not sure what A’s opinion on the matter would be – maybe he would understand, or maybe he is as confused about Justinmon as the rest of Rhiannon’s friends – but getting her insight into the relationship is an important dimension and a worthy story on its own.
Another Day is a brain teaser that forces the brain to stretch in new and unfamiliar ways. It sets the up questions. I doubt Every Day provides any definitive answers but I suspect that it will expand on them with a more open and fluid perspective. I am glad that I didn’t read Every Day first and I defend my order choice like this: Rhiannon trying to understand A’s perspective is like trying to describe a colour to someone who has never seen it before. Reading Every Day will be like looking through the eyes of someone who has been able to see that colour all along.