Start: May 16, 2019
Finish: May 20, 2019
Synopsis: I wake up.
Immediately, I have to figure out who I am. It’s not just the body–opening my eyes and discovering whether the skin on my arm is light or dark, whether my hair is long or short, where I’m fat or thin, boy or girl, scarred or smooth. The body is the easiest thing to adjust to, if you’re used to waking up in a new one each morning. It’s the life, the context of the body, that can be hard to grasp.
Every day I am someone else. I am myself–I know I am myself–but I am also someone else.
It has always been like this.
Every day sat on my bookshelf for years. I can’t remember when I first purchased it or why I originally wanted to read it. I considered donating the book to a local shelter because my love for Young Adult literature is beginning to wane and I wanted to make space on my bookshelves. But my English class is reading different books on identity and voice these last few weeks of the school year and I decided to read this book and another so I can lead a small book discussion before the school year ends.
Every day follows a character named “A” who inhabits a different body, well, every day. While in a person’s body, A does their best not to severely interfere with a person’s life, sticking to their usual routine. But that changes when A inhabits the body of a boy named Justin and meets his girlfriend, Rhiannon. A and Rhiannon spend the day together and by the end, A is infatuated with the girl. The rest of the story revolves around A and Rhiannon trying to navigate a relationship with a unique hurdle in their way.
The biggest strength of this story is the premise. The different bodies A inhabits are unique with their own personal histories and personalities. It was interesting seeing A try to live as faithfully as possible while living in a certain body. They don’t get it right all the time, especially when A’s affection for Rhiannon grows stronger. But we get a sense of the various ways a person can live and exist in this world. They’re complex, but sometimes hide that complexity from their families, peers and the world as a whole. It’s both engaging and heartbreaking to read about the inner lives of some of these characters.
Kelsea Cook’s mind is a dark place. Even before I open my eyes, I know this. Her mind is an unquiet one, words and thoughts and impulses constantly crashing into each other. My own thoughts try to assert themselves within this noise. The body responds by breaking into a sweat. I try to remain calm, but the body conspires against that, tries to down me in distortion.
It is not usually this bad, first thing in the morning. If it’s this bad now, it must be pretty bad at all times.
A usually relates and empathizes with bodies they inhabit and this entire premise is a stark reminder of the importance of being mindful with how you interact with people, especially strangers.
I’m not the biggest fan of romance in literature, particular in YA literature. I think I’ve spoken on this before, but I find that most romantic plots or subplots are weak, usually written in a way that is dismissive or disrespectful to the women in the stories. At the start of every day I was ambivalent about the romance between A and Rhiannon. After spending one day together, A was convinced they were in love with Rhiannon. It’s called out a few times by Rhiannon, who notes they barely know each other. As the story moves along, I found myself not minding the romance and I liked how it was ultimately resolved. But I also understand that I’m not the targeted audience and my perception of this relationship will be different from that of a young adult. I still believe Rhiannon gets the short end of the stick here and in some cases has to deal with A’s needy personality. But I still found myself rooting for them to work at certain points.
The only reason I couldn’t give this book a higher rating is because of it’s poor treatment of a fat character. It was actually difficult reading that chapter (or day as they’re called in the book) and I was discouraged by the end of it.
The next morning it’s hard to raise my head from the pillow, hard to raise my arms from my sides, hard to raise my body from the bed.
This is because I must weigh at least three hundred pounds.
To be completely transparent and vulnerable here, I am a fat person. I have weighed close to 300 pounds in my life. Over the years and with the help of some supportive friends, I’ve learned to be okay with my weight and body, though it’s still a work in progress, a mental and emotional battle that I want to quit sometimes. I’ve been made to feel ashamed for how I look or how much I weigh. But I’m committed to writing positive representation for fat people because, contrary to popular opinion, fat people are awesome! I’m writing all of this to say that fat people are consistently mistreated in stories and I have no tolerance for it anymore. The fat character in this book is named Finn and he’s treated horrendously by the author. It was clear the author was writing his perception of how fat people exist, without actually consulting with a fat person.
Rhiannon is the only girl in the movie theater with a dozen roses on the seat next to her. She is also the only girl whose companion is spilling over his chair and into hers. I try to make it less awkward by draping my arm around her. But then I’m conscious of my sweat, of how my fleshy arm must feel against the back of her neck. I’m also conscious of my breathing, which wheezes a little if I exhale too much.
The whole chapter reeked of stereotypes about fat people and it’s heartbreaking because I sense the characters and the author has a poor opinion about fat people. To make matters worse, the next chapter starts like this:
I feel guilty about how relieved I am to be a normal size the next morning.
A tries to acknowledge their bias about fat people, but it feels shallow and they never call Rhiannon out on it who was visibly upset about Finn’s body. It’s heartbreaking and even as I write this, I’m struggling to not cry about it. I almost quit the book after Finn’s chapter. It felt like a slap in the face, but it also solidified my resolve to write quality fat representation.
Overall, every day was a decent book. I still think I’ll donate it after the book discussion and I may read the sequel and companion novel if my library carries them. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I was younger and maybe the tragedy here is that I didn’t read it when it was first published.