Last Updated on November 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1408
The Transcendent Power of Love and Friendship
One of the main themes in David Levithan's 2012 young adult fantasy novel Every Day is love, which is why it is often categorized as a romance novel as well. In Every Day, Levithan explores the importance as well as the meaning of love and its ability to break down all barriers. Essentially, the plot revolves around the relationship between A, who is the protagonist and narrator of the story, and their romantic interest, Rhiannon. A is described as a genderless spirit who wakes up in a different body every day. They cannot understand why humans are obsessed with labels and social constructs or why they often fail to accept the fact that everyone is different, as this lack of acceptance limits humans' ability to give and receive love.
What is it about the moment you fall in love? How can such a small measure of time contain such enormity? I suddenly realize why people believe in déjà vu, why people believe they've lived past lives, because there is no way the years I've spent on this earth could possibly encapsulate what I'm feeling. The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations—all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise, remarkable intersection could happen. In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is, you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are now just arriving at the place you were always meant to be. (Day 5,994)
After inhabiting the body of typical "bad boy" Jason, A feels an instant connection with his girlfriend, Rhiannon, whom Jason often neglects and treats poorly. A usually tries not to interfere much in the lives of the people whose bodies they inhabit, but after meeting Rhiannon, A does everything they can to be near her and, ultimately, falls in love with her. In this sense, Levithan touches upon the subject of impossible love, as A and Rhiannon gradually realize that no matter what they do, they simply cannot be together. But he also indicates that not being able to be in a relationship doesn't stop A and Rhiannon from loving each other—even after A decides to leave the area, hoping that distance will eventually help them forget one another.
This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And when it’s just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be. (Day 6,009)
In a broader sense, Levithan also teaches a very important lesson about love and human nature: everybody needs somebody. All people want to be loved by someone, be it a partner, a family member, a friend, or even a stranger. Humans want to have someone with whom we can share our experiences, thoughts, feelings, and secrets. A, who has been living in a different body day after day for over 6,000 days, yearns for connection and companionship, much like all regular people do; after meeting Rhiannon, A realizes that they want to wake up in one body and stay with it for the rest of their life, just so they can be with the person they love.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's this: We all want everything to be okay. We don't even wish so much for fantastic or marvelous or outstanding. We will happily settle for okay, because most of the time, okay is enough. (Day 5,994)
The Complexity of Identity
Aside from being a genderless entity who accepts every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, and physical appearance, A is also a nameless being who doesn't know where they came from; they gave themselves the name "A" so that they could have a constant in their otherwise fitful life. This brings readers to another essential theme of the novel—identity.
A has many temporary "identities"; one day they might wake up in the body of a white, straight, conservative, religious boy who is also smart and perceptive (Nathan), and other times they might wake up as a troubled teenage girl who struggles with depression (Kelsea). A doesn't have a permanent identity of their own; nor do they have a physical form, and they don't know anything about their origin or history. Thus, Levithan indirectly asks the question: Can a person truly define themselves if every day they're someone else? Furthermore, can someone actually love their partner unconditionally, if their partner is a different person every day? In this context, Levithan incorporates a secondary theme—self-discovery.
A eventually realizes that they must remain in someone's body permanently if they want to be with Rhiannon; they must sacrifice someone else's life if they want to selfishly pursue their own happiness. But A also realizes that they have a choice—they can either accept the identity of an evil demon and posses the body of one unfortunate soul for the rest of their life, or they can become the moral hero of their own story and sacrifice their happiness for the happiness of others. A chooses the latter, which finally gives them a sense of identity: A can now define themselves as a good individual.
I am myself—I know I am myself—but I am also someone else . . . I am a drifter, and as lonely as that can be, it is also remarkably freeing. 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 can view everyone as pieces of a whole, and focus on the whole, not the pieces. I have learned to observe, far better than most people observe. 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. (Day 5,994)
The Impact of Mental Health on Individuals and Society
Occasionally, A wakes wake up in the body of someone who struggles with mental illness. As they are able to access the memories of the person whose body they inhabit, A can also see and explore that person's mental and emotional state. For instance, one day, A wakes up in the body of Kelsea Cook—a quiet and reserved girl who lives with her father. Kelsea suffers from depression and keeps a journal in which she writes her thoughts and feelings, and she mentions that she wants to take her own life. By going through her memories, A sees that she isn't very close to her father; however, they still decide to warn her father to watch over Kelsea the next day, no matter what she says to him.
Depression has been likened to both a black cloud and a black dog. For someone like Kelsea, the black cloud is the right metaphor. She is surrounded by it, immersed within it, and there is no obvious way out. What she needs to do is try to contain it, get it into the form of the black dog. It will still follow her around wherever she goes; it will always be there. But at least it will be separate, and will follow her lead. (Day 6,005)
Whenever A wakes up in the body of someone who suffers from mental illness, they try to better understand that person and hope to help them in some way, as they've learned that there is a social stigma attached to mental illness. A understands that while they have to feel this way only for one day, the person whose body they inhabit feels like this constantly. Thus, A always tries to make that person feel a bit better, even if it only lasts for a day.
Some people think mental illness is a matter of mood, a matter of personality. They think depression is simply a form of being sad, that OCD is a form of being uptight. They think the soul is sick, not the body. It is, they believe, something that you have some choice over. I know how wrong this is. (Day 6,005)