Imagine that every day, you wake up in another person's body and live that person's life for 24 hours. That's what life is like for A, who eventually becomes known as Adam. The only consistency is that each day, he wakes up in the body of someone who is his same chronological age. Maybe. Because days and even years lose all meaning when you start life anew every 24 hours.
Imagine how difficult it must be to construct and preserve some kind of self-identity when each day you look in the mirror and see a different person. Your identity must be separate from everything normal people associate with identity: it's a self-knowledge completely independent from your gender, racial or ethnic background, sexual preference, political leanings, taste in books or movies or music, physical or mental capabilities, socio-economic background, or anything else. Imagine that. Really, try to imagine that. Because I cannot. I cannot divorce myself from my labels: daughter, friend, wife, cousin, sister. Middle class, Southern, Democrat. Reader, blogger, traveler. Bookseller, religious skeptic, lover of words. Short, white, Irish-Anglo-Germanic background. I could go on, but why? It would take more introspection than I'm capable of, at least for this blog post, to determine what parts of my identity are unique to me, or my consciousness, and what parts of me are defined in relation to other things.
It's a difficult premise to wrap your head around, no?
Now try to imagine that one day you wake up in the body of some random boy, and you end up falling in love with his girlfriend? That's what happens with A, when he's in the body of a boy named Justin, and he falls in love with Rhiannon. How do you get her to fall in love with you, when she can't bring herself to believe that her boyfriend that day, the nerdy guy she danced with at a party, the new girl she shows around school, the huge football player she meets for coffee, and the suicidal girl she talks to on the phone are all the same person?
How do we fall in love? Is it with a person, or their essence? Can we ever look past the packaging of the body and truly fall in love with whatever it is that defines a person?
I think conceptually this book is fascinating, but I think to fully flesh out the implications of waking up in a new body each morning, and then trying to have an ongoing relationship with somebody, the book needs to be written for adults. For a book to answer such existential questions puts it beyond the grasp of most YA books. I would prefer to read the adult version of this book, so Mr. Levithan, if it's not too much trouble, could you please start writing it?
NB: I picked up an advance reading copy of this book at BEA in June, and the book will be published at the end of this month by Knopf. It also has the dubious honor of putting random lyrics from the Buddy Holly song "Every Day" into my head every time I see the title.