Chapter 1 Summary
As Every Day begins, A awakes and begins the usual morning ritual: “Immediately I have to figure out who I am.” Every day, A inhabits a different body—male or female, dark-skinned or light-skinned, gay or straight. These bodies are all approximately A’s age, which is sixteen at the moment, but their lives are otherwise as varied as human lives can be.
(As the story progresses, it will become clear that A either has no gender or is both male and female. For the purposes of these summaries, A will be referred to as he when he is in a male body and she when she is in a female body.)
Today A awakes as a boy named Justin, a video-game-playing smoker who stayed up too late last night. A knows this both because Justin’s body is tired and because he can access Justin’s memories. With effort, A can learn any factual piece of information that this body knows. Feelings are impossible to access, so A’s feelings are his own.
This morning, A dislikes Justin immediately. He reflects:
It’s hard being in the body of someone you don’t like, because you still have to respect it.
A shows respect for the bodies he borrows by going through the motions of their lives without changing anything. Any attempt to change a life, even for the better, can cause unintentional harm. It is hard for A to live with this afterward.
After a hurried and silent breakfast with Justin’s parents, A drives to Justin’s school. There he meets Rhiannon, a girl who looks at him with so much hesitancy and hope that A does not have to check Justin’s memories to know she is his girlfriend. When she seems surprised at the gentle way A speaks to her, his dislike for Justin increases.
A knows that he should not try to get to know Rhiannon. When he was younger, he “took other people’s lives personally,” but “it was too heartbreaking to live with so many separations.” He stopped trying to connect to others—which, in A’s mind, is not all bad. He is free:
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 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.
But today, A struggles to remain disconnected. Justin always tears Rhiannon down,...
(The entire section is 740 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
When A wakes up the following morning, she is a girl named Leslie Wong—but she is still in love with Rhiannon. While getting ready to go to Leslie’s school, A remembers dreaming about Rhiannon last night. Idly, A wonders if Justin shared the dream. She hopes he did because that means he might wake up with kind feelings toward Rhiannon. But A knows, deep down, that this hope is “another kind of dream.”
Although she is preoccupied with these thoughts, A looks around for clues about Leslie’s personality. Leslie seems fairly geeky and unpopular. Her grandmother nags her about oversleeping and seems to expect a meek response. Her brother Owen glares at her over breakfast and appears to expect her to remain silent. A reflects that this kind of tense, grumpy, quiet morning is a typical part of most lives.
What is not typical is the fact that Owen lights a joint on the way to school. Once again, A remains silent. Privately, A reflects that she likes it better when she is an only child. Although she understands that siblings could be helpful and comforting in an ordinary life, they are neither in her strange existence. They are some of the hardest people to avoid harming, and they are the most likely people to harm her.
At school, A meets Leslie’s best friend, Carrie, who crows that the boy she likes chatted with her online last night. Although A pretends to be excited, she privately thinks snarky thoughts about Carrie’s very unremarkable good news. A reflects:
This is the hard part about having best friends that I feel no attachment to—I don’t give them any benefit of the doubt. And being best friends is always about the benefit of the doubt.
After a while, A realizes that she is also jealous. Carrie has a chance at a real connection with her crush, whereas A has no such chance with Rhiannon. Sternly, A orders herself to stop feeling this way. There is no room for jealousy in her existence.
A’s day grows more complicated when Leslie’s brother, Owen, gets into a fight with his drug dealer. Later, A learns that the other boy accused Owen of being the dealer, but Owen insists to A that he is innocent. He runs away, and A is left to face her family without him. Everyone seems to expect Leslie to defend Owen, so that is what A does. Later she convinces him to come home, and she helps him convince his family that he and the other boy were...
(The entire section is 639 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
When A wakes up—this time as a boy named Skylar Smith—he has a plan for seeing Rhiannon again. Skylar, however, lives a four-hour drive away from Rhiannon, so it would be impossible for A to see her. Sadly, A goes through the motions of Skylar’s school day with practiced efficiency.
For A, the challenging part of the day arrives when Skylar has to go to soccer practice. A knows the rules of the game, so that is okay. But the coach keeps shouting names of kids Skylar is supposed to pass the ball to, and that means A has to access Skylar’s memories constantly to figure out which other boys the coach means. A manages this task, so Skylar’s day at practice is not too embarrassing.
After this experience, A reflects that he knows how to play most sports but does not allow himself to try the really dangerous ones. He created this rule after a bad experience when he was eleven. That year, he once woke up in the body of a kid on a ski trip and figured skiing looked fun. Unfortunately, A had never actually learned to ski and did not know about bunny slopes. In any case, the kid whose body he was borrowing had already learned to ski on ordinary hills. When A tried, he broke the kid’s leg in several places. It hurt so bad, A thought the pain might carry through to the next day’s body. It did not, but the guilt was worse. In A’s mind, choosing to put another person’s body at risk was as bad as choosing to hurt the body on purpose.
The skiing experience made A wonder what would happen if he made a mistake that killed someone. Would A die along with the body? Or would he wake up the following morning as someone else? To A, the answer does not really matter:
Whether I die or just wake up…as if nothing happened, the fact of the death will destroy me.
Since then A has found excuses to avoid dangerous sports. However, he is a whiz at video games. They are a part of nearly every sixteen-year-old’s life, so he has learned all the ordinary ones. After he finishes with soccer practice, Skylar’s friends come over and play World of Warcraft. As they play, they eat snacks and chat, and A almost enjoys himself.
He would be having a genuinely good time if he didn’t want to be somewhere else.
(The entire section is 427 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
The next day starts out perfectly. When A awakes, she is a girl named Amy Tran. Amy has her own car, and she lives only an hour’s drive away from Rhiannon’s school. Quickly, A searches the Internet to map the route. When she is finished printing the map, she clears her search history. She reflects, “I have become very good at clearing histories.”
On the way to Rhiannon’s school, A reflects that there is no real way to have a relationship with Rhiannon. Going back to see her will only make the pain of separation worse. But A is willing to endure the pain in exchange for more time with Rhiannon.
Memory is a complicated subject for A. Unlike normal people, who repeatedly see the same faces and places every day and thus have no trouble remembering a vast store of ordinary details, A meets most people only once. Because of this, she only remembers a select few people she chooses to think about over and over. After all, memory relies on repetition, and for A, mental pictures are “the only repetition available.”
On the way to Rhiannon’s school, the radio plays one of the songs A and Rhiannon heard on the way to the beach three days ago. A thinks this is a sign:
I feel the universe is telling me something. And it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. What matters is that I feel it and believe it.
At Rhiannon’s school, A walks in confidently, as if she is a student there. She goes straight to Rhiannon and says hello. Pretending to be Amy Tran, A claims that her parents are planning to move to this area, and that she decided to sneak into the school without their knowledge to get a sense of the place and decide whether or not she is okay with the move. When Rhiannon offers to let A come along to her classes for the day, A is simultaneously pleased by Rhiannon’s kindness and disappointed that Rhiannon does not show any sign of recognition.
Justin eats lunch with Rhiannon and her friends, and A gets to observe him from the outside for the first time:
He is more attractive than I thought, but also uglier. His features are attractive, but what he does with them is not. He wears the superior scowl of someone who can barely hide his feelings of inferiority.
During lunch, Rhiannon tells A about her trip to the ocean with Justin. Sensing an opportunity to find out what people remember about the days when A...
(The entire section is 730 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
When A awakes the following morning, it is immediately clear that everything is wrong. A’s latest body stayed up late doing drugs, and now it wants more drugs. For A, this is a new and frightening experience:
I’ve been in the body of a pothead before. I’ve woken up still drunk from the night before. But this is worse. Much worse.
It is unclear what gender A’s body is today. He or she lives in a stinking, dirty room and sleeps on a dirty mattress. The body and its addictions are in control. This life is about getting high.
The idea of getting high terrifies A, whose existence is already so uncontrollable that it seems unthinkable to give up further control. So A decides not to give the body the drugs it needs. This is for A’s sake, not for the sake of the person who normally lives in the body:
I have been in situations before where it’s been me against the body…At first I thought there was something I could do within a single day that could make everything better. But…bodies cannot be changed in a day, especially not when the real mind isn’t in charge.
Seeking any available form of relief, A grabs a thriller novel off a shelf and attempts to read it. The words pass by A’s eyes, but A does not understand them. All A understands is that the body is in pain—so much pain that it is threatening to die if it does not get drugs. A continues to read, one sentence at a time, and to wait for the day to be over.
All day, A keeps the body’s door locked and refuses to leave the room—even when the body gets a powerful urge to go to the bathroom. There are drugs somewhere in the building, and if A goes out into the hall, the body will take over and get what it wants. A tries to think of Rhiannon, but these thoughts hurt like everything else. A feels angry. A feels insane. Eventually the need to pee is so strong that A tries to pee in a bottle and ends up splashing urine all over the room.
As the hours wear on, A reflects on the way some people abuse their bodies:
[The body] is as active as any mind, as any soul…I have been in the bodies of starvers and purgers, gluttons and addicts. They all think their actions make their lives more desirable. But the body always defeats them in the end.
Eventually the sun goes down. Eventually the body gets so tired it needs to...
(The entire section is 456 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Although A feels emotionally “wrung out” when he wakes up in the body of Nathan Daldry the next morning, he can also tell that Nathan’s body has slept well. He looks around and sees the neatly kept room of a clean-cut boy who has already finished his homework for the weekend.
After getting out of bed, A checks Justin’s email and learns about a party taking place that evening at the home of a boy named Steve. According to Google Maps, Steve’s address is an hour and a half away from Nathan’s house. In other words, it is reachable—if Nathan’s parents will consent to loan him their car for the evening.
Nathan’s parents turn out to be “a very nice couple who make it very clear that their niceness shouldn’t be challenged or pressed.” Speaking as Nathan, A asks permission to borrow the car to attend the school musical. He assures them that he will finish his chores before leaving and return home by midnight. They agree to let him go.
For most of the day, A does Nathan’s chores. Then he sets out for Steve’s house, reflecting that the party there will probably be pretty wild. Accessing Nathan’s memories, A discovers that this boy has only once sipped a beer, and only because his uncle encouraged him to. A reflects that he really ought to let this fact guide his actions. He should—and normally would—stay within the comfort zone of his borrowed body. But ever since he met Rhiannon, he has been doing things differently:
Now I’m letting my life hijack these other lives for a day. I am not staying within their parameters. Even if that’s dangerous.
Although A feels guilty about what he is doing—essentially kidnapping a boy for an evening—he does not turn back. He drives to Steve’s house and waits for Justin to arrive.
More than an hour passes before Justin’s car appears. When it does, A is pleased to see Rhiannon beside him. He waits for them to enter and follows, pleased to find the party so chaotic that nobody questions his presence. He finds Justin in the kitchen chugging beers. A few minutes later, he finds Rhiannon in the living room by herself, looking through Steve’s CD collection.
Approaching Rhiannon, A introduces himself as Nathan and tells her he likes that music. He sings a few bars of a song they sang together on the way to the beach. She seems a bit suspicious of him, especially when he claims to...
(The entire section is 890 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
On Sunday, A awakes in the body of Roger Wilson, whose clothes are already laid out for church. It does not take long for A to observe Roger’s mother and three little sisters—“no father in sight”—and realize that this is a loving but struggling family. The home has one computer, which A uses quickly before church to set up the email address he gave to Rhiannon last night.
At the church service, which is Baptist, A reflects on all the religious services he has attended over the years. All religions have almost identical beliefs; they give people a sense of community and of a higher power, a force for good. It baffles A that people care so much about the small differences of history, race, culture, and so on. To A, such a focus is impossible:
The only way I can navigate through my life is because of the 98 percent that every life has in common.
During the service, A steals several glances at Roger’s mother. He reflects that he is as inspired by people like her as he is by God. It is clear to him that this single mother has persevered to live a good life in spite of many challenges. He senses this same kind of strength in Rhiannon.
At home, A wants to check his new email to find out if Rhiannon has written to him, but he does not want to let Roger’s family see him checking an address that belongs to someone they do not know. Instead he does Roger’s homework and watches his little sisters run around. That evening, when his mother puts his sisters in bed, A grabs a moment on the computer.
There is no note from Rhiannon, so A writes to her to say he enjoyed meeting her. He does so in the identity of Nathan, the gay boy who danced with her last night, writing:
Even though you’re not my type, gender-wise, you’re certainly my type, person-wise.
He sends this message off and checks his usual email address. He is shocked to find a note from Nathan:
I do not know who you are or what you are or what you did to me yesterday, but I want you to know you won’t get away with it. I will not let you possess me or destroy my life. I will not remain quiet.
This message sends A reeling in shock. He must have left his email open on Nathan’s computer—a mistake A has never made before.
This email address is the only continuous thing about A’s life, the only evidence...
(The entire section is 570 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
In the morning, A awakes in the body of Margaret Weiss. She lives four hours away from Rhiannon, too far to risk a visit. However, she owns a laptop that A uses to check email. First A checks the email address she gave to Rhiannon. She finds a sweet, friendly reply to the note from yesterday. Then A checks her old email and finds another note from Nathan, who says he has contacted the police.
It is hard for A to know what to make of this, but it gives her a bad feeling. She searches for Nathan’s name online and finds a local newspaper article entitled, “The Devil Made Him Do It.” It describes how police awakened the sleeping Nathan in his parked car the other night. Unable to explain how he got there, Nathan told them he had been possessed:
The whole day, this thing was in charge of my body. It made me lie to my parents and drive to a party in a town I’ve never been to. I don’t really remember the details.
Neither the article’s writer nor the police seem to be taking Nathan’s claims seriously, but the story worries A anyway. Near the end of the article, Nathan says that he cannot be the only person who has had such an experience. He calls for others to go public about any similar experiences they have had.
All this makes A feel “guilty and defensive.” She knows Nathan must have been terrified when he woke up the other night, and that it was not fair to put a person through that. But A is horrified at being called a demon, and she worries that other people whose bodies she has borrowed might speak up too. In some ways, A wants to explain—but she does not have much information to give. She is what she is, and she doubts that she can make Nathan understand that.
It is Monday, so A goes to school as Margaret. Margaret’s boyfriend spends almost all his time trying to kiss her, but A is not in the mood. She pretends Margaret has a cold. At the first opportunity, she slips off to the library and finishes forwarding all her messages to her new email account. When she is done, she decides not to delete the old account. Even though Nathan’s actions are troubling, his situation is A’s responsibility. Although A does not reply to Nathan, she feels it is the least she can do to leave a way for him to make contact.
When A checks the Rhiannon email address again, a new message has already arrived:
(The entire section is 494 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
The next day, A awakes in the body of Megan Powell, a girl who lives only an hour away from Rhiannon. After a quick email exchange, A and Rhiannon arrange to meet up in a bookstore at 5:00 p.m. It is fairly easy for A to get Megan excused from cheerleading practice for a fictional doctor’s appointment.
After these practical details are settled, A spends the day worrying about what to say to Rhiannon. Although A has never told anyone the truth before, it seems the only option now. In fact, A wants someone else to know she exists: “I am learning that a life isn’t real unless someone else knows its reality.” But she worries that the truth will be too weird or frightening for Rhiannon.
When A arrives at the bookstore, she finds Rhiannon already there. Taking a deep breath, she slips into the seat across the table. When Rhiannon protests, A claims she was sent by Nathan. After a quick plea for Rhiannon to listen to the whole story without getting angry or leaving, A plunges in and explains that she wakes up in a different body every day. Today’s body belongs to a cheerleader named Megan Powell, but recently A has also been a kid named Nathan who danced with Rhiannon at a party, a girl named Amy who spent a day at Rhiannon’s school, and a boy named Justin who took Rhiannon to the beach.
Naturally, Rhiannon does not believe A. She thinks this must be an elaborate joke, but A tells a series of stories about each of these people—details that someone would only know if he or she were there. At the end of this list, A adds:
And now…I want to tell you the truth before I switch again. Because I think you’re remarkable. Because I don’t want to keep meeting you as different people. I want to meet you as myself.
When Rhiannon continues to disbelieve the story, A begs her to admit that the two of them have a connection. Rashly, A insists that it could not have been Justin at the beach that day—that Justin is a different kind of person. Rhiannon does not agree. She does not storm out—which was A’s main fear—but she does not accept A’s story either.
Not knowing what else to do, A suggests meeting again tomorrow at the same time. Rhiannon points out that this could be an elaborate joke, but A insists she is sincere. Rhiannon looks A in the eye for a long time. “What’s your name?” she says.
It is the first time anyone has ever...
(The entire section is 540 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
The following day, A awakes as a football player named James who shares a room with two brothers—his twin, Tom, and their older brother, Paul. It is immediately clear to A that this is a poor family, and he is not surprised when he finds no computer in the house. James does not have a car either.
After a long bus ride to school, A shovels down the free breakfast, marveling at James’s enormous appetite the whole time. It is not until study hall that A has a chance to steal a look at his email. There is a message from Rhiannon that says she wants to believe but is not sure she can. In his reply, A explains who and where he is today.
Next, A checks his old email and sees another note from Nathan. In it, Nathan demands to know who A is and why he takes over bodies. Once again, A chooses not to reply. He reflects that he probably needs to do something for Nathan, but telling the truth does not seem right.
At lunch, A wants to check his email again, but James’s body is so hungry that skipping lunch would seem unkind. James has very little money, so A has to take advantage of the free meal at school. He eats quickly and shrugs off his twin, Tom, who taunts when he rushes to the library in the last few minutes of the break.
In the library, A examines the public transportation to Rhiannon’s town, and it looks like he will need three buses to get there. But this turns out not to be necessary because it occurs to Rhiannon to offer to come to him. She suggests the Starbucks in his latest town. It seems clear that she is unwilling to be alone with him, at least for now.
Before the day ends, A hears kids joking about being “possessed by the devil” and realizes that people are aware of Nathan’s story. He asks his twin, Tom, about it, and Tom seems to believe Nathan is a liar. Still, A worries that nothing good can come from the fact that people are talking about this.
That afternoon, Rhiannon seems purposeful when she arrives at Starbucks. Her first request is to see the phone A is carrying. She is still suspicious that this is an elaborate joke, so she checks James’s previous week’s communication history to make sure A has not been communicating with Justin or anyone else she knows. Next, she quizzes A on small details from their various encounters. By the end of it, she seems nearly convinced.
After a while, Rhiannon and A move to a bench outside—still in public,...
(The entire section is 768 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
When A awakes the following day, he is momentarily confused because he thinks he is in the same body as yesterday. After a brief period of disbelief, he understands what has happened: he has awakened in the body of James’s twin, Tom.
This is the first time A has ever had a chance to observe someone waking up after giving up a day to his consciousness. He stares at James all morning and pesters him with questions about what he did the day before. James appears not to feel like he was possessed. He merely tells A the basic facts of what he did yesterday. For whatever reason, his mind seems to edit out Rhiannon and the information he read in A’s emails. To James, yesterday was just a normal and unremarkable day.
During school, A misses Rhiannon. “I should have given her my phone number,” he thinks—then he stops, amazed at himself. He cannot keep an object from day to day, so how could he have a phone number? It strikes him as a bad thing that he had such an impossible thought.
After eating lunch, A sends Rhiannon a brief note and then reads yet another email from Nathan. The news stories about Nathan are still going, and A is beginning to think he needs to reply. After pondering his options for a while, he writes a note saying that Nathan is mistaken in thinking there is any connection between this email account and his strange experience. At the end of the note, A adds that even if Nathan was scared the other night, “blaming the devil is not the answer.”
Normally, A likes it when his days are “uneventful,” but when Tom’s afternoon progresses normally, A is somewhat disappointed:
Going through the motions gives you plenty of time to examine the motions. I used to find this interesting. Now it has taken on the taint of meaninglessness….This is the trap of having something to live for. Everything else seems lifeless.
That evening, when A wishes James goodnight, he feels really sorry to be leaving. After two days in one family—the most he has ever had—he feels he has seen “the smallest hint” of what it would be like to be a normal person. He wants that for himself, but he cannot have it.
(The entire section is 394 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
The following morning, upon awaking in the body of Kelsea Cook, A knows immediately that Kelsea is mentally ill. After experiencing so many different lives, A understands absolutely that mental illness is about more than personality or mood. Mental illness is “as much a part of the body as its eye color or its voice.” People who live with it have to develop “uncommon strength” just to live at all.
Kelsea’s mind is full of dark thoughts and awful impulses. It distorts everything around A and makes her desire to experience pain above all else. When she opens her eyes, she sees a room in which nearly everything has been broken. When A accesses Kelsea’s memory, she is horrified to find that nobody has helped Kelsea yet. Kelsea has no diagnosis, no pills, no psychologist. This means that A, too, will have to get through her life without help.
Kelsea lives with just her father, who snaps at her in the morning and drives her silently to school. It seems clear that the two of them almost never speak, and that he is ignoring her problems because he is too weak to help her do anything about them.
At school, A finds that Kelsea has a few friends, but they do not talk much with Kelsea. Only her lab partner in physics seems to sense her pain and want to help, but A feels it would be wrong to involve this girl when Kelsea would not do so herself.
At lunch, A checks her email addresses, welcoming the chance to remind herself that Kelsea’s life is not really her own. Rhiannon has sent a note in which she tells A a bit about Justin and then asks if A minds hearing about this ongoing relationship. In the reply, A says that she wants honesty no matter what. “Although I would prefer for it not to hurt,” she adds honestly.
Next, A checks her old email and finds a note from Nathan. It says, “I know what you are” and demands that A confess. The forceful, self-assured tone of the note seems totally foreign to the boy whose life A glimpsed the other day, and A wonders briefly if somebody else wrote the note. According to Nathan, someone called “the reverend” is helping him, and A wonders about this too.
For the rest of the school day, A struggles to resist Kelsea’s desire to hurt herself. After school, A begins the walk home. It is a long, unpleasant walk. Halfway home, A stops at a playground and opens Kelsea’s journal. In it, A finds a horrifyingly well-researched list...
(The entire section is 1042 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
On Saturday morning, A is a boy named Hugo who has plans to go to the gay pride parade in Annapolis, Maryland with his boyfriend, Austin. It is good that A will be out of the house because Hugo’s parents speak only Portuguese. Foreign languages make life difficult for A, who cannot access a body’s memories fast enough to keep up with a conversation.
Hugo has a computer, and A finds an email from Rhiannon, who says she called Kelsea’s house first thing in the morning and got no answer. She seems to take this as a hopeful sign that Kelsea and her father are out getting help.
In her email, Rhiannon includes a link to an article about Nathan and several other people who claim they have been possessed. None of them are people A has ever seen before, and most appear to be trying to shirk blame for doing something wrong. Still, the article bothers A, who searches the Internet and finds more like it. In the process, he figures out that the reverend Nathan mentioned is named Anderson Poole. In several articles, Poole insists that demonic possession is a natural consequence of modern social ills. These statements bother A, who impulsively sends Nathan a note: “I am not the devil.”
Before leaving for the gay pride parade, A invites Rhiannon to come out and meet him there. Because of this, he has trouble paying attention to Austin. Even when some anti-gay protesters harass them and he helps Austin taunt them back, A’s heart is not really in the day. Still, he reflects that homosexuality is just like any other kind of sexuality:
In my experience, desire is desire, love is love. I have never fallen in love with a gender. I have fallen for individuals.
Austin notices A’s lack of attention. Apparently Hugo has been similarly distant lately. When Austin takes A aside and begins a breakup speech, A freaks out, terrified that he has just ended someone else’s love. He begs Austin to stick it out, at least for the rest of the day, and Austin relents. After that, A spends all his efforts on being a good boyfriend.
Back at Hugo’s house, A reads a note from Rhiannon that says she is sorry she could not come to the parade. He gets a note from Nathan, too, a reply to the claim that A is not the devil: “Prove it.”
(The entire section is 413 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
In the morning, A awakes up as a girl who looks like a teenage version of Beyoncé. For A, this is not a good thing. Being reasonably attractive is comfortable, but it is hard to live as someone whose life is “defined by…attractiveness.” Ashley Ashton—the owner of A’s current body—is gorgeous. It is clear that she spends virtually all her time trying to look perfect.
Rhiannon is not far away today, and she offers to pick A up. But when A gets into the car, Rhiannon laughs and says, “You’ve got to be kidding.” This reaction is mildly offensive to A, but Rhiannon explains that it is difficult to get used to seeing one person being so utterly different every day. She asks A to be patient.
Because they have already been to the ocean, Rhiannon and A go to a forest. On the way, Rhiannon mentions that she called Kelsea’s house and was told that Kelsea had “gone away to deal with some things.” Rhiannon and A agree that this is a good sign.
When they arrive at the park, the two of them eat a picnic Rhiannon has brought. For a while, they chat amiably, but the conversation soon turns to A’s desire for a relationship. Rhiannon refuses to date A, largely because A cannot really be there for anyone. Besides, it is hard to be with someone who always seems like a new person. “I don’t think I can like you no matter what,” Rhiannon says.
Although A cannot argue much against these protests, she can argue against the final reason: Rhiannon’s relationship with Justin. Because A has been inside Justin, she feels certain he is not worth Rhiannon’s time. Rhiannon says that A cannot know much about a person after only one day.
This conversation escalates to an argument, and eventually A dares Rhiannon to invite Justin out to dinner tonight. Obliquely, A suggests that she can use the gorgeous body of Ashley Ashton to make Justin forget all about Rhiannon—thus proving to Rhiannon how shallow he is. To A’s surprise, Rhiannon agrees and calls Justin to make a plan.
After that, A tells Rhiannon about her only prior relationship, with a boy named Brennan. On the day they met, A worked in a movie theater and met Brennan, who was flying home to another state the following day. Seizing the opportunity, A started a long-distance relationship via email—but it did not work out because Brennan eventually wanted to progress to phone calls and visits. Naturally, A could not...
(The entire section is 532 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
The following day, A is a boy named AJ who has diabetes. Diabetes always worries A, but he has had it a few times, so he can manage okay if he is careful. After sending a note of apology to Rhiannon, A goes to AJ’s school. While there, he sees Nathan Daldry, who is now socially isolated. Other kids constantly tease him about his demonic possession story, but Nathan is trying to ignore them.
Since his note that said he was not the devil, A has not written to Nathan again. Nathan wants proof, and A has none to give. But at lunch, he takes the opportunity to talk with Nathan.
Fortunately, Nathan has always been friendly with AJ. Although he is suspicious of AJ’s questions at first, Nathan soon opens up and talks about how the experience felt to him. He remembers much of his day with A in control—but only the parts when he was doing familiar things. He does not particularly remember the party or the drive toward home.
During this conversation, A is startled to hear Nathan say that “being teased is nothing compared to surviving a possession.” It has never occurred to A that he is a force other people should have to survive.
Nathan insists that he has learned from his experience and would know immediately if the devil came near him again—but it never occurs to him that he could be talking to A right now. It is somewhat of a relief to A to know that Nathan cannot recognize him.
But A is chilled by Nathan’s assumption that A is evil. For the rest of the day, A ponders this. He thinks, “I am not the devil, but I could be.” Suddenly it occurs to A that he could harm anyone he wanted and never suffer any consequences. He could murder someone, and the body that committed the crime would go to prison, but he would go free. It amazes him that this idea has never occurred to him before—especially because it seems so obvious to Nathan.
These thoughts bother A greatly, but eventually he decides that anyone could be a devil. After all, everyone has to choose whether to lead a good life or a bad one. Everyone has the capability to become a criminal or a murderer. Just because A could get away with it does not mean he is naturally evil.
Rhiannon does not write to A today. Before he goes to bed, he sends her a note to say he wants to see her again.
(The entire section is 434 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
In the morning, A is Adam Cassidy. He decides to skip school and drive to Rhiannon’s school again. He does not bother to access Adam’s memories to figure out anything about him or what he may miss during this day off. During the drive, A reflects that he went through a phase, years ago, when he often occupied other people’s bodies without trying to learn anything about them. He recalls that they were “extraordinarily blank days” and guesses that they probably seemed just as blank in the memories of the bodies’ owners.
Today, instead of thinking about Adam, A thinks about his own life. Above all, he wonders how to make a relationship work for Rhiannon and for himself. By the time he reaches Rhiannon’s school, he still has no answers.
At the school, A rushes inside and wanders the halls, looking for her. When he sees her, he stops and stares. She turns around—and somehow, impossibly, she recognizes him. The bell rings, but she does not go to class. Instead they sit down in an empty classroom and talk. When A asks how she knew who he was, she says, “The way you looked at me…It couldn’t have been anyone else.”
Rhiannon says she is not angry at A, but she does not know how to be friends with him. However, she is sure of her decision to stay in a relationship with Justin. When A asks about Justin’s reaction to the dinner the other night, Rhiannon says that he probably sensed it was a trap. But she, unlike A, does not think this is the only reason Justin resisted a beautiful girl’s advances.
In spite of her decision to stay with Justin, Rhiannon admits that she feels a connection to A. But she does not want to abandon an old relationship for a new and uncertain one. This bothers A, who says that she knows him better than anyone ever has, and this is not uncertain at all. Rhiannon replies honestly that A does not know her better than anyone, at least not yet.
Nothing really gets resolved in this conversation, and all too soon, Rhiannon says she has to go. She cannot skip her next class because she has a test. When A asks if he can come and see her soon, she tells him she would rather talk only through email for a while.
A hates hearing this, but he cannot make her change her mind.
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Chapters 17-18 Summary
The next day, A is a girl named Cheville. School seems like too much effort, so she pretends to be sick and stays home, whiling away the time reading and surfing the Internet and playing video games. She used to enjoy this kind of day, but she does not enjoy this one.
Over and over, A checks her email. Rhiannon does not write.
Next A is a girl named Valeria—not a high school student, but an illegal immigrant and an underage maid. Valeria does not speak English, so A can only access thoughts in Spanish, a language A knows only a little. Valeria’s body feels terrible, and A is confused. Eventually she realizes she has menstrual cramps, and she accesses the Spanish words necessary to tell her older sister what is going on.
Valeria’s sister seems sympathetic, but they both still have to go to work. They ride from house to house in a van with many other girls and women. In pairs or in small groups, they get dropped off at people’s houses, which they must clean quickly and efficiently. As the youngest, Valeria has the worst job—cleaning the bathrooms.
It is obvious to A that slacking off today would cause harm to her body’s owner, so she works as hard as Valeria would. As A works, she works up a sweat. Her cramps refuse to go away, and she is tempted to steal a couple of painkillers from a medicine cabinet. She does not do it because “it’s not worth the risk.”
On her way to the master bathroom, A is startled to encounter a woman at home, talking on the phone. The woman clearly assumes that A cannot understand English. Idly, but without any plan to try it, A wonders what would happen if she suddenly began speaking to the woman in perfect English.
In all, A and her sister clean five houses. By the time they are done for the day, A is so tired she can barely move. Her sister sees this and helps clean the last few bathrooms, a silent favor that gives the day “the only memory worth keeping.” Then the two girls go home to dinner. There is no real need to speak Spanish: everyone else is just as exhausted and silent as A is.
There is no computer, no opportunity to check for any messages from Rhiannon.
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Chapters 19-20 Summary
In the morning, A awakes as a girl named Sally Swain—a girl who owns a computer. Before doing anything else, A logs onto her own email and reads a note from yesterday from Rhiannon. In it, Rhiannon says she needed a little time for “taking a break and thinking things through” but that she is glad to have seen A the other day anyway.
At the end of Rhiannon’s note, she asks about A’s day. This is such a normal question that A does not know how to feel about it. She has always wanted to interact with Rhiannon in a normal way, but now the normality falls flat. Because A’s feelings are so strong, she finds it hard to talk about little things. Besides, the last meeting with Rhiannon left A unsettled, and she wonders if Rhiannon really even cares to hear about anything.
Still, A writes back and describes the last two days. Then A leaves for school because Sally Swain has a big cross-country meet. Cross-country is pleasant for A because running is all about living in the moment and focusing on the body. When A runs, she does not have to think about anything, least of all herself.
Now A is Daniel Stevens, the eldest child in a happy family. It is a Saturday, and the family has planned a day out together. They go to an art museum, an aquarium, and an IMAX movie. They eat lunch and dinner out at good restaurants. In spite of a few brief moments of tension over minor mishaps, Daniel’s parents and two sisters are “caught up in their happiness” all the time. This emotion is at the forefront of all their minds, so much so that they do not notice how uninvolved Daniel is today.
This is the kind of day A used to love best, but today it is merely a day without Rhiannon. But it is better than a really bad day, and A allows the museum and the fish and the movie to distract him from his troubles from time to time.
However, A keeps noticing that he lacks all connection to other people. Aside from Rhiannon, everyone in the world is a stranger to him. On the drive home, he worries about spending his life like
the people in the other cars, each with his or her own story, but passing too quickly to be noticed or understood.
(The entire section is 411 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
Today A is in the body of a boy named Orlando who lives just forty minutes away from Rhiannon. Unluckily for A, Rhiannon still wants to keep him at a distance. But on the plus side, Orlando is a late sleeper on the weekends. This means that A has the whole morning free to spend on the computer as long as he remains quiet.
For much of the morning, A reads a Web site created by Reverend Poole, the preacher who is supposedly helping Nathan. Poole’s site contains an open invitation to share stories about being possessed by demons.
For a long time, A stays on this site, reading people’s stories and watching their videos. Nathan’s story contains nothing new, and many others are clearly the work of insane people. A few, however, seem to be sincere confessions by people who are clearly in pain. One woman says a demon possessed her and forced her to steal. A man says his son, who committed suicide, must have been possessed.
There are only a few posts by teenagers. Because A only lives in the bodies of people his own age, he focuses on those. One of these teens, a boy from Montana, says he had another mind in control of his body for a day. It was not an unusual day, but his control of himself was gone.
This story scares and amazes A because it sounds exactly like what he does—but he has never possessed this particular boy. He is sure of this because he has never been to Montana.
When A checks his old email, he finds a message from Nathan that contains a link to Poole’s website. The message instructs him to go to Poole for help, which makes A so angry he feels tempted to reveal that he was AJ the other day. A message like that would teach Nathan to fear everyone, all the time—and that would serve him right.
At this thought, A stops himself, upset at the cruelty of his own impulse. He never thought things like that before recently. He reflects, “Not getting what you want can make you cruel.”
Later, A receives another note from Rhiannon, but it is just a brief update about what she has been doing and a brief question about him. After A sees it, he goes back to bed.
(The entire section is 399 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
Lately, A’s first thought each morning has included a bit of mental math to calculate how far she is from Rhiannon. Today, A’s math leaves her briefly confused. Then she realizes she is Rhiannon.
When A realizes what is going on, she feels as if “the world has turned to glass.” Any wrong choice she makes may shatter everything she cares about. Rhiannon would not want A to be controlling her body, but there is no choice about that now. All A can do is to try to maintain as much of Rhiannon’s privacy as possible.
Still, A cannot avoid looking at Rhiannon’s room, which is cozy and full of books and pictures. She decides not to access any memories to find out the history of any of the objects there. This seems like stealing memories, whereas A wants to learn about Rhiannon from the words Rhiannon chooses to say.
In spite of this worry, A is overcome with amazement at the feeling of being inside the girl she loves. Every little thing about being Rhiannon fills A with wonder:
This is how it feels to raise her arm.
This is how it feels to blink her eyes.
This is how it feels to turn her head.
This is how it feels to run her tongue over her lips, to put her feet on the floor.
As the day wears on, A periodically stops to marvel at these little things. She enjoys hearing Rhiannon’s voice from inside her head. She enjoys seeing the world through Rhiannon’s eyes.
In order to preserve Rhiannon’s privacy, A decides not to shower or change underwear. Every time A uses the bathroom during the day, she closes her eyes. At school, she goes through the motions of Rhiannon’s life. Every now and then, A pauses and wills Rhiannon to remember everything—and above all, to remember A’s attitude of care and respect.
At first, A tries to avoid Justin, but this proves impossible. The two of them go out to pizza for lunch. With some annoyance, A notices that Justin spends the whole meal complaining about how other people treat him. Whenever A tries to add anything to the conversation, Justin ignores it. This bothers A, but she resists the temptation to break up with him. She knows this would destroy Rhiannon’s trust in her forever.
Near the end of the meal, Justin calls A by the nickname “Silver.” Without meaning to, A accesses a memory of Rhiannon and Justin reading The Outsiders together. Justin...
(The entire section is 661 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
In the morning, the first thing A does is check her email. Rhiannon has already written to say she remembers yesterday and wants to meet up to talk about it.
Today A is Dylan Cooper, a boy whose bedroom “is an orchard of Apple products.” The gadgets are a good thing because they help A make plans to meet up with Rhiannon at her town’s bookstore that evening. During school, A goes through the motions, and afterward he does what he wants.
At the bookstore, Rhiannon recognizes A again. To his surprise, she does not seem upset. If anything, he has a sense that she is “at peace.” Now that he was in her body for a day, she understands him better, and her last doubts about him are gone.
Rhiannon explains that, when she woke up, she did not feel she had been possessed. Rather, she felt “something had been…added.” In her memory, she does not have the feeling that A is in control. Rather, she feels that she and A spent the day together.
It is clear that Rhiannon trusts A more now. He had the chance to do anything he wanted to her or her life. He did not break up with her boyfriend, nor did he “sneak a peak” at her body. When they discuss the latter topic, she marvels that she believes his claims with no doubt whatsoever.
During this conversation, A says he is glad to have met Rhiannon’s parents. Her relationship with them is only so-so, but obviously they are an important part of her life. Neither A nor Rhiannon can resist imagining how it would feel to explain A to them, but as they joke about this, they both grow sad. Obviously they cannot explain: being introduced to parents is one of those normal experiences A can never have.
Although Rhiannon’s understanding of A has grown, it is not absolutely complete. She is still “hung up on” the idea that A is both a boy and a girl. She tries to get him to say he feels more “at home” in one kind of body or the other—but he cannot. She asks how this works during kissing or sex.
At this, A has to admit that he is a virgin, and Rhiannon laughs. Trying to save face and joke it off at the same time, A replies, “I only have eyes for you.” This is the wrong thing to say, and she explains, yet again, that she does not want a relationship with him.
This time, A stops her before she gets into the explanation. He does not want to hear it today, but he promises not to push her anymore today either....
(The entire section is 466 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
For the last couple of days, A has not thought about Nathan. But when A awakes in the body of Vanessa Martinez and checks her email, she sees that Nathan has been thinking a great deal about her. Nathan has sent A a string of short emails demanding further explanations. It is clear that he is worrying constantly, unable to sleep at night because of it. One email says, “You must be the devil. Only the devil would leave me like this.”
Although A’s feelings about Nathan are complicated, she feels she has a responsibility to help ease his fears at least a little. She writes a note to say that she will never occupy Nathan’s body again, but Nathan demands more information. After a moment’s thought, A decides to make herself seem normal and unthreatening. She says her name is Andrew, and she took Nathan to a party to talk to a girl. It seems like a bad idea to get Rhiannon involved, so A refuses to explain who the girl was, but A assures Nathan repeatedly that it is all over and that he needs to move on. Nathan remains hostile and suspicious, but that is all A has to give him. She says she is going to sign off, and she does.
All day, A has the unpleasant sensation that Vanessa Martinez is not a nice person. Everyone seems afraid of her, even her family and her teachers. Whenever there is an opportunity to say anything cruel, everyone’s eyes flick to Vanessa—but A is in charge today, and she keeps her mouth shut. She is tempted to try to change Vanessa, but nothing she can do in a day would help. She is tempted to humiliate Vanessa instead, but that would just be cruel. So A spends the day mostly silent and withdrawn. She expects relief in the people around her, but she mostly senses disappointment. They are used to the entertainment of Vanessa’s cruelty, and they do not get it.
At the end of the day, A feels exhausted and unhappy. She emails Rhiannon about what it felt like to occupy Vanessa for the day, but it does not help much. Now that A knows what a real human connection is like, a connection through technology seems pale in comparison. It scares A to feel this way, but the feeling is there.
When A checks her old email again, she sees a note from Nathan, who says he still has questions. This just makes A tired, and she reflects that there are always more questions. “The only way to survive is to let some of them go,” she thinks.
(The entire section is 450 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
In the morning, A is a boy named George who lives fairly close to Rhiannon. Rhiannon has sent an email that says she is free at lunch—but A has a bit of a problem with that because George is homeschooled. Although A has been homeschooled before and had good experiences, he definitely dislikes the homeschooling he receives today.
By 8:00 a.m., George and his two brothers are all sitting in old-fashioned desks listening to their mother give an extremely boring history lecture. There is no talking or acting out among the boys, who are apparently required to sit perfectly still and pay attention all day long while their mother slowly recites dry lists of facts. She is obviously a very controlling person, but A refuses to be controlled. Instead of listening quietly, he starts asking questions. His brothers act like he is “on cocaine,” and his mother gets flustered. Eventually he asks to go to the library and read about the answers himself, and his mother offers to drive him.
At the library, A emails Rhiannon to let her know where he is, and then he sits down to read one of his favorite books, Feed. The librarian—though she acted cold toward George’s mother when she dropped him off—is nice to A. This reinforces A’s impression that George’s mother might be a difficult person.
When Rhiannon arrives at the library, she comes directly to A. Instead of greeting her normally, he pretends he does not know who she is. He only draws this joke out for a few seconds, but she gets very embarrassed. When he admits that he is who she thinks he is, Rhiannon is furious. This surprises him at first, but he realizes quickly that she is far less used to his life than he is. He promises never to do anything like it again.
When the librarian is not looking, A and Rhiannon slip outside and go to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. There, by way of apology for his joke of a moment ago, A makes a heart out of chopsticks and Sweet n’ Low packets. Rhiannon teases him for using artificial sweetener, but she seems to forgive him.
After a pleasant meal, A and Rhiannon open two fortune cookies. Rhiannon’s fortune says, “You have a nice smile,” and she is annoyed. According to her, this is not a fortune. When she complains to the waiter, he brings more cookies. Her second fortune is better: “Adventure is around the corner.”
Afterward, they return to the library. The librarian sees...
(The entire section is 655 words.)
Chapters 26-27 Summary
In the morning, in the body of a girl named Surita, A is pleased to learn that she has a good deal of freedom. Rhiannon cannot miss school again, so the two of them meet at her local bookstore in the afternoon. The afternoon is a nice one, although A notices that Rhiannon is less interested in touching A as a girl than she is in touching A as a boy.
Rhiannon suggests a plan for spending the weekend together. She will tell everyone she is with her grandmother or with friends, and this will free her up to spend time with A instead. This plan sounds good to A, who promptly agrees.
In the morning, A is a boy named Xavier Adams. Xavier is supposed to attend a play rehearsal all day, but A calls the director to say he is sick. He drives two hours west toward a rural address Rhiannon has given him. It turns out to be Rhiannon’s uncle’s hunting cabin.
Xavier is a good-looking boy, and Rhiannon greets A-as-Xavier with an eager kiss. She leads A to the bed and takes off his clothes and her own. Although A lets her do it—and enjoys everything she does—he gets nervous when he realizes she wants to have sex. It confuses him to know how attracted she is to his body, which will not be his body tomorrow. Besides, he does not know what will happen next. Due to the nature of his life, their relationship is too uncertain.
For this reason, A tells her he needs to stop. At first Rhiannon thinks A is worried about Justin—who is still her boyfriend—but A says this is not the problem. He tells her that Xavier is a virgin, and that it feels wrong to use this body for sex without Xavier’s knowledge or permission. This is not really the problem, but it is a good enough reason that Rhiannon accepts it.
Rhiannon and A spend the rest of the afternoon napping and talking. For the first time, Rhiannon admits that she does not understand why she has not ended her relationship with Justin. Later, A tells her about his favorite day ever—the day he spent in the body of a blind girl, who experienced the world differently than anyone else he had inhabited.
When it is almost time for A to take Xavier’s body home, A tells Rhiannon that he would stop changing bodies every day if he could. Rhiannon knows he cannot, so she just asks him to come back to the cabin tomorrow, whoever he is. He promises to do so, and she promises to wait.
(The entire section is 451 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary
In the morning, A is so hung over that she cannot at first remember her own name. Above her, a voice shouts at her to wake up. The voice calls her Dana and says that she is grounded, but she is not going to be allowed to sleep all day. A’s whole body hurts, and it takes three tries even to open her eyes. When she does, she sees Dana’s mother, who looks both angry and unbearably sad.
As A struggles to make sense of anything at all, Dana’s mother announces that the doctor is coming. She adds that she cannot believe what Dana did last night. After everything that has happened to the family, it is impossible to understand.
Unfortunately, Dana seems to have blacked out from drunkenness last night—which means A cannot access any memory of the events. Her hangover is so bad that A cannot make sense of anything. All she knows for sure is that she has a headache and that the world keeps rolling underneath her. This is bad, not only for Dana, but also for A. If she can hardly move, it is going to be difficult to keep her promise to go meet Rhiannon.
Slowly, A forces herself out of bed and into the shower. She dresses in some clothes she finds on the floor and looks for a computer or a phone so she can contact Rhiannon. She sees neither, and her body is so exhausted she drifts off to sleep.
Later, Dana’s father wakes A up and says the doctor has arrived. This confuses A, who wonders suddenly if Dana has some illness in addition to the hangover. But the doctor turns out to be some kind of psychologist or psychiatrist, who asks Dana’s parents to leave the room and then sits down to talk.
When the doctor asks what happened, A says truthfully that she does not know. Seeing how hard A is struggling to talk, the doctor gets her some Tylenol. Then she explains what happened on the previous evening: Dana snuck out to a party, where she drank a great deal of alcohol. “Your friends were concerned, for obvious reasons,” the doctor says, but A still has not managed to access Dana’s memories well enough to understand why her drinking should be particularly concerning to anyone. The doctor explains that Dana’s friends hung back and did not try to prevent her from drinking—but they did try to stop her from driving home. Dana fought them. She bit someone, and she ran away.
This story scares A because she cannot remember any of it. For the first time, she really understands how...
(The entire section is 796 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
Around 5:00 a.m. the following morning, A awakes to more bad luck. He is in the body of a big, hairy guy named Michael whose family is flying to Hawaii today for his sister’s wedding. Although A knows little about how he comes to occupy each body he uses, he has long since known that his mind never travels more than a few hours’ driving distance. If he flies to Hawaii, he could only get back by occupying the body of a teenager whose body was about to board a plane to Maryland. The chances of that are very small, so A’s reaction is firm: “Under no circumstances can I go.”
Quickly, A pulls on a Metallica shirt and writes a note to Michael’s family saying that he has to do something. He promises to change his ticket and get to Hawaii in time for the wedding, and he leaves.
Michael does not have a car, so A takes buses to get to Rhiannon. This involves a circuitous route that ends up taking almost seven hours. When he arrives at Rhiannon’s school, he figures out what period it is and makes his way to her class, gym. There he waves to her and stands back to wait.
A few minutes later, Rhiannon says something to her gym teacher and walks toward the gym. When A rushes to meet her, she is as angry as he feared. She explains that she waited all day, thinking the poor rural reception on her phone was the reason she had not heard from him. She was sitting there in her underwear when an old man arrived with a dead deer. He turned out to be an acquaintance of her uncle’s, and he shouted at her for trespassing. Even then, she still thought A was coming. Instead of leaving, she sat around waiting and watching a group of guys butcher an animal. Then A never came.
When she is finished, A tells Rhiannon about Dana and about Michael. The fact that he managed to avoid flying to Hawaii is not lost on Rhiannon—but she is clearly feeling helpless. “How are we supposed to do this?” she asks.
The only answer A can give Rhiannon is a hug, but his bad luck is not over. Justin enters, sees them together, and assumes the worst. He calls Rhiannon “bitch” and “slut,” and he attacks A. Michael is a huge guy, but A has no idea how to fight. The first punch knocks him down, and that is not enough for Justin. He kicks A several times, and eventually A has to flee. He gasps at Rhiannon to meet him at the Starbucks when she can, and he runs.
It is hours before Rhiannon makes it to...
(The entire section is 632 words.)
Chapter 30 Summary
In the morning, A decides he likes Vic immediately. Vic was born a girl but lives life as a boy. [Editor’s Note: This summary will use he to refer to both Vic and A because it is the pronoun they both choose to use.]
Even though A likes the owner of today’s body, he is still willing to disrupt Vic’s life. Rather than go to school, where Vic has a couple of tests scheduled, A gets into Vic’s car and drives toward Rhiannon.
On the way, A access Vic’s memories to find out about his life. Because of A’s peculiar existence, he has some insight into how it might feel to be born into a body that feels wrong. He is impressed with Vic for understanding himself and making the decision to change his own gender.
Apparently Vic has understanding parents who let him be the person he feels he needs to be. His mother struggled at first but did not try to change him. His friends have mostly accepted him too. And then there is Dawn, the girl of Vic’s dreams, a girl who is able to love Vic for who he is, without worrying about sexuality and gender. As A accesses the memories of this love story, he wishes that he could have a similar relationship with Rhiannon.
Rhiannon does not seem surprised to see A, but she does not seem entirely happy either. Part of the problem is the body: because of who he is, Vic looks very unusual. The kids at Rhiannon’s school are already giving her trouble about being caught in the arms of a strange hairy Metallica fan, and she is not eager to give them more to gossip about. She insists that she and A leave campus before they talk.
Rhiannon and A go out to lunch, where Rhiannon gives a short summary of her situation at school: people are siding with Justin, who is glorying in the sympathy he is getting from all the girls.
Next, Rhiannon asks about Vic. When A explains a little, Rhiannon asks if A thinks it is unfair to take all these people away from their normal lives like this. She points out that A should let his bodies’ needs come first since he is only a “guest.”
This is basically the same way A always thought before he met Rhiannon, but it stings him to hear it from her. She says that she is not trying to be mean, and she adds that she loves A. This is heartening to A, who finds the strength to accept Rhiannon’s request for a little time alone. After lunch, A returns Vic to his life.
In the evening, A goes...
(The entire section is 583 words.)
Chapter 31 Summary
When A’s latest mother wakes him up in the morning, he sees a dark suit waiting. It takes A a moment to realize he is named Marc, and he is going to his grandfather’s funeral today. Marc’s mother asks A to be patient with his father, who is taking this death very hard. Before he leaves with Marc’s family, A steals a quick moment on the computer to let Rhiannon know what is going on.
At the funeral, A accesses Marc’s memories of his grandfather, a strong and good man whom everyone clearly loved. Around A, everyone else is probably thinking of the same memories—but of course, they actually knew the man who died.
When A looks around at Marc’s parents, his extended family, and all of the grandfather’s fishing buddies, he feels like “a complete imposter.” He tries to remember everything he sees and hears, for Marc’s sake, because Marc should be able to remember his own grandfather’s funeral. But A also thinks about himself, and when he sees the grandfather’s body lying empty, he has the morbid thought that the bodies he occupies are also empty of their owners.
During the funeral, the preacher recites the funeral service with real grief. When Marc’s father gets up to speak, he briefly loses control and cries. Marc’s mother goes up to stand with him, and he regains his composure well enough to finish. He puts aside his notes and tells stories of the father he has lost.
By the end of the service, A is in tears. Marc’s parents comfort him, but it does not help. They are comforting their son, not A, and A’s own grief is incomprehensible to them. He is crying because he is “not a part of this, and will never be a part of something like this.” There will never be a family and a community surrounding A. He feels jealous of the dead man for having this. And even while he cries, A knows that Marc will remember crying for his grandfather, and will not remember that A was ever there.
Later, when A watches Marc’s grandfather’s coffin descend into the ground, he thinks that it is “a strange ritual.” It occurs to him that this is the last time so many people will think of the dead man at once. Oddly, A feels sorry that Marc’s grandfather cannot witness the moment.
After the funeral, everyone goes to the grandfather’s house to eat and tell stories. Most people drink a good deal, but not Marc’s mother, who stays sober to drive her husband and...
(The entire section is 480 words.)
Chapter 32 Summary
In the morning, A finds it difficult to move. He has been overweight in the past, but the body of Finn Taylor is morbidly obese. This is not because of a medical condition, but because Finn does not care about anything. At some point in his life, he gave up, and his obesity is one result.
Although A is tempted to play sick, he decides to shower and go to school. He does not want to skip seeing Rhiannon, not “when things feel so precarious,” so he offers to meet her at her bookstore that evening. When he does so, he is careful to warn her about his appearance.
At school, A finds it difficult to navigate the world from within Finn’s body. He is not used to moving so much bulk around, nor is he used to experiencing so much disgust from the people around him. The only people who do not treat Finn with revulsion are his two good friends. They do make fun of him for his weight, but A has the distinct impression that they would make fun of Finn if he were skinny as well.
After school, A showers and puts on Finn’s best clothes. As he readies himself, he has a thought that he would like to leave Finn with a scary memory—something to shock him out of his current lifestyle. When A realizes what he has just thought, he is upset with himself. He reminds himself that Finn’s choices are nobody’s business but his own.
Nervously, A drives to the bookstore and waits for Rhiannon. When she arrives, she seems a little overwhelmed. “Don’t look at the package. Look at what’s inside,” A reminds her. But she replies that it is easy for him to give this advice when he is not the one who has to adjust at every meeting. Privately, A thinks that he does have to adjust. Even though Rhiannon always looks the same, each of her moods makes her a little different.
Trying to make the best of things, A takes Rhiannon to dinner and a movie. During the dinner, she admits that she cannot see A in Finn the way she can see him in other bodies. To A, this is almost good news, and he says maybe it is because he and Finn are such different people. But Rhiannon is clearly doubting her ability to live with this situation, which scares A into silence.
For the rest of the evening, A feels like nothing goes right. His arm feels wrong around Rhiannon’s shoulders. She holds his hand for a while, but she soon finds an excuse to pull it away. When they say goodnight, they do not kiss. She merely thanks...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
Chapter 33 Summary
In the morning, A is relieved to be a normal-sized, ordinary-looking girl named Lisa Marshall. This feeling of relief bothers her a little: it means she is casting judgments about appearances the way other people do. A never cared about this kind of thing before.
Rhiannon sends an email saying she wants to meet because, as she says, “We need to talk.” The tone of this message worries A, who spends the school day quiet and uncommunicative. Afterward, she goes to the park to meet Rhiannon, who again recognizes A without being told.
In the conversation that follows, Rhiannon tells A that she cannot keep up a relationship in this way. “I just can’t love every person you are equally,” she says. “I want to—I want to be a person who can do that—but I can’t.” She goes on to say that she needs time to get over Justin, and she wants a relationship with someone who can meet her parents or hang out with her friends.
Hearing this, A wishes she could say, “I’ll change.” But that is not possible, so A shares her “deepest fantasy” instead. She wishes she and Rhiannon could move to New York City, where so many people live so close together that A’s mind would not travel so far between bodies every day. She says she and Rhiannon could have an apartment together and see each other all the time.
This fantasy makes Rhiannon cry. She understands immediately that it is impossible. There are too many ways it could go wrong—and A knows this too, deep down. Rhiannon says she would probably love A forever if A were “the same guy every day, if the inside were the outside.” But she cannot handle all the problems, and all she can do—for A’s sake—is hope that some other girl could.
As it is, Rhiannon says she wants to stay friends with A, but it cannot be her whole life. She needs time with her friends and family and school life too. She asks A to think this over for a few days and then get together again to talk it out some more. They part by saying they love each other—but they both know love is not enough.
A while later, A returns home to find Lisa’s mother cooking. Unable to stomach the idea of sitting with others tonight, A says she is sick and goes to bed. She reflects mournfully that this is her life—retreating alone to a room, never really connecting with others.
(The entire section is 434 words.)
Chapter 34 Summary
In the morning, A is a girl named Kasey who has a broken ankle. She checks for an email from Rhiannon, but there is none. This leaves A feeling depressed and alone, and so she contacts the one other person who sort of knows she exists: Nathan Daldry.
When she checks her old email, A finds many emails from Nathan, the last of which says he just wants to hear A explain what happened. So A emails back and offers to meet at a Mexican restaurant near his house.
Because of the broken ankle, A cannot drive. Kasey’s parents drop her off. They seem to assume this outing is a date, and A does not say otherwise. Nathan has not been allowed to drive since his experience with A, so his parents drop him off too.
When Nathan walks into the restaurant, A is waiting at a table. She knows he expects a boy named Andrew, but she has also told him she has a broken ankle. She beckons him over with her crutch, and he comes, but he looks bewildered. He immediately comments on the fact that A is a girl, and A almost laughs. She can tell that he feels weirder imagining that he was possessed by a girl instead of a boy, but she cannot understand why. To her, it is irrational that people get so hung up on gender.
After A and Nathan order food, A explains who and what she is. She does not particularly want to do this, but she hopes it will make Nathan accept what happened to him so he can move on with his life. In part, it is also because she is lonely.
Because Nathan had the experience he had, he believes A much more readily than Rhiannon did. It fits with his experience and his memories. He asks what Kasey will remember from today, and A says she’ll probably leave Kasey with a vague memory of going on a date that did not really work out. Kasey will not specifically remember Nathan, nor will she remember that anything was different for the day.
Naturally, this makes Nathan ask why he remembers that he was not in control when A occupied his body. After admitting that she does not know for sure, A suggests a few possibilities: maybe it happened because A left so abruptly, or because A did not imagine a plausible set of memories to cover her tracks, or because she somehow wanted Nathan to know.
Nathan promises not to tell anyone else about this, but he asks to meet up with A again tomorrow. Although A does not promise anything, she says she will do it if she can.
On the drive home,...
(The entire section is 488 words.)
Chapter 35 Summary
The following morning, A is a girl again—Ainsley Mills, an anxious teen with lots of allergies and a deep love for little dogs. In other words, it is a normal day, except for the fact that A is planning to meet Nathan again. Checking her email, A sees that Nathan has requested a meeting at his house. After checking for contact from Rhiannon and finding none, A agrees.
It is a Sunday, and Ainsley’s parents do not object when she says she wants to go out. They just hand over the car keys and tell her to be back by five because she has to babysit her sister. This does not sound like a problem to A, who doubts she will need to stay with Nathan long. After all, she only promised to show up and prove to him that she is a different person.
At Nathan’s, A reflects that she does not remember his house very well. She is amused when he ushers her into the formal living room. It seems strange to be treated as a guest when she lived in Nathan’s body for a day.
Nathan goes to get A a glass of water, but he does not come back in. Reverend Poole comes instead. He greets A politely, but A notes that he sits between her and the door. He is much larger than Ainsley, plenty big enough to stop her from leaving if he wants to. It worries A that her instinct is to worry about this. It seems like a sign that Poole is up to no good.
It soon becomes clear that Nathan has told Poole everything. There is nothing to be gained from denying it, so A shouts that Nathan should not have betrayed her trust. As she does so, she hopes that Nathan is close enough to hear this and feel guilty. Then she tells Poole that she is not the devil.
Laughing, Poole insists that A’s body-shifting can only be the devil’s work. Then he adds, “You and I are on the same side.” This bothers A, who gets up to leave. As she predicted, Poole stops her.
Poole says he is not really a priest, but he is on a mission to find beings like A. He says there are others, and he asks A to look in his eyes. When A does this, she senses another consciousness hidden underneath the one she is talking to. Poole is not really Poole, but rather a shifting consciousness like A. But there is one important difference. The person possessing Poole seems evil.
Laughing at A’s shock, the person possessing Poole says that he is surprised A has not figured out how to remain in a body for more than a day. “You have no idea the power...
(The entire section is 755 words.)
Chapter 36 Summary
Today A is a boy named Darryl Drake. He spends the day distracted, and everyone comments on it—his friends, his track coach, and his girlfriend. On the drive home from school, A promises the girlfriend that he will do better tomorrow.
Darryl’s parents both work late, and his brother is away at college. This means A gets to spend the afternoon as he pleases. He surfs the Internet, reading a long story about himself on Reverend Poole’s website. There are several annoying mistakes, either because Nathan misunderstood A’s explanation or because Poole is deliberately trying to make A angry.
After that, A researches Reverend Poole. There is not much information except the website about demonic possession. There are photographs from both before and after the wandering consciousness took over Poole’s body, but A cannot tell the difference without the living person in front of him.
Again, A reads all the possession stories on Poole’s website. There are a few from Montana that seem to be describing experiences like his own. And there are quite a few others that could be real if Poole was telling the truth when he said it was possible to take over a body for more than a day.
Naturally, A wants to be one person for more than a day—forever, if possible. But he does not know what would happen to the owner of the body. What would he or she do while A took over? Would he or she turn into a wanderer? Would a person be able to survive that existence, having known what it is like to be a single, whole person first?
If A did not have to affect anyone else, he would choose to remain one person forever. But choices always involve other people, and he cannot stand the idea of ruining a human life.
When Nathan sends an apology email, A replies that it was not Nathan’s fault. But A adds that he will never write to Nathan again. After sending this note, A deletes his old email account. This makes him sad because this email account has been the only stable fact of his life for years.
That evening, Rhiannon emails to ask how A is doing. Although A wants to tell her everything, he doubts that she wants to hear everything. He says only that there may be others like him and that he is worried. After sending this note, A waits hours for a reply that does not come.
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Chapters 37-39 Summary
Today A is a girl named Zara who wakes up entwined in the arms of a girl named Amelia. By accessing Zara’s memories, A learns that Amelia sneaked in through a window the night before. Waking up, Amelia asks A to check her mother’s room to see if it is safe to sneak out through the house. Although A complies and sees Amelia out safely, A also catches a little smile on Zara’s mother’s face when Amelia arrives later in the morning to drive Zara to school. Privately, A wonders if Zara’s mother knows more than she admits.
At school, Zara and Amelia spend much of their time together. They obviously care deeply about each other, but A gets the sense that they also enjoy the time they spend apart and the time they spend with others. For the first time, A glimpses what it might be like to have a relationship and friendships and a family. She misses Rhiannon terribly and wishes for a relationship like that together.
When Amelia goes to basketball practice, A asks to borrow Amelia’s car. The drive to Rhiannon’s school is not far, but A remains outside, watching as Rhiannon emerges with some friends. Rhiannon seems to be living her life normally, not grieving. When she looks up, A looks away, half-wishing to be recognized and half-trying to respect Rhiannon’s request for time apart. Rhiannon does not come to say hello, so she probably does not recognize A.
On the way home, A stops at a store and accesses Zara’s memories to find out Amelia’s favorite snacks. She uses them to spell Amelia’s name on the dashboard of the car, which delights Amelia. The two of them go out to dinner and kiss goodnight on the porch. This, A thinks, is the sort of life and relationship she wants but cannot have.
While falling asleep, A decides what Zara will remember of the day: just the happiness she feels in her life, not the unhappiness it caused in A.
In the morning, A is a girl who feels feverish but does not have a temperature. She does not know if she is ill or if her heart is broken. She stays in bed.
In the morning, A is a boy named Howie Middleton. He gets an email from Rhiannon, who says she wants to see him but is scared of loving him and getting swept into a relationship that can only break apart.
Instead of answering, A tries to live Howie’s life for the day. At lunch his girlfriend shouts at him for not...
(The entire section is 465 words.)
When A wakes up, he is a boy named Alexander Lin. Alexander’s room is full of books and guitars, and many surfaces are covered in Post-It notes with random quotes written on them. Some are in his handwriting, but others have obviously been written by friends and family. All this makes A smile. He likes Alexander very much.
Alexander’s parents are going away for the weekend, and they are leaving him a full refrigerator and an envelope full of money. Accessing Alexander’s memories, A realizes it is their anniversary, and he has a present for them. He goes to get it, and the wrapping turns out to be dozens of Post-It notes inscribed with things they have said to Alexander over the years. Inside is a ten-hour mix CD of music for their ten-hour trip, as well as a batch of cookies Alexander baked himself. They love the gift, and A likes Alexander even more.
At school, A chats with Alexander’s friends and realizes they have the solid, easy relationships A would want if he were the kind of person who had his own body. Alexander and his friends rely on each other, and A would feel comfortable relying on them. He wonders what it would be like to stay in this body forever.
To find out, A zones out during math and accesses a bunch of Alexander’s memories. They all add up. Alexander is an all-around good guy, the kind of person people trust. He has his flaws, and he has had a few heartbreaks. Sexually, he is attracted to girls.
After observing all this, A asks himself a big question: “What if there was a way to stay?”
That afternoon, A sends a couple of question to Reverend Poole and gets a couple of replies back. Then he emails Rhiannon and asks to see her. She agrees, but when they meet she seems full of misgivings. He asks her to pretend that the two of them are meeting for the first time. At first she resists, but she does love A, and eventually she goes along with it.
Together, A and Rhiannon go to the grocery store to buy food for dinner. In the aisles, they tell stories about memories related to breakfast cereals and cat food and watermelons. Then the two of them go to Alexander’s house, where they cook dinner and eat in Alexander’s tree house.
As the meal ends, A tells Rhiannon what he has learned: there is a way to stay in a body for longer than a day, and Reverend Poole is ready and willing to show him how. He is tempted to do it—which is why he has to...
(The entire section is 779 words.)