Review: Another Day, by David Levithan (Rating: 4/5)

levithan-another-dayAnother Day, by David Levithan
Publisher: Penguin Random House/Knopf (August 25, 2015)
Page Count: 336 pages
Genre: Young Adult Romance (Genderqueer/Genderfluid)

Rating: 4 out of 5

* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

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Summary: Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.

Notes: I will be reviewing Another Day with the assumption that anyone reading this has previously read Every Day (although I will avoid spoilers for either). While both novels can stand on their own, I’m not sure how I would separate out my feelings about Every Day in order to review Another Day without any emotional bias… the novels are just too entwined in my head!

My Review: This was an extremely difficult book to write a review about. Normally when I start a review, I ask myself a few easy questions: Did I love the book? Were the characters interesting? Was the relationship realistic, organic, and compelling? Did I find myself absorbed by the plot?

When it comes to Another Day, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes”. However, that’s also true of the prequel-slash-companion novel, Every Day. They are, in fact, the same story told from the differing points of view of the main characters.

Another Day is told from the point of view of Rhiannon, a girl who is struggling to understand what love truly means. She thinks that she loves her boyfriend Justin, and that love is something you have to work for, compromise for. But then she meets A and her entire definition of love changes; here is someone who puts her first, who asks her opinions, and who doesn’t let her settle for less than she deserves.

There’s only one problem: A has no body. Every day, A wakes up in someone else’s life, a spirit hitchhiker of sorts. And when A wakes up one day as Justin, A quickly falls in love with Rhiannon. But Rhiannon has framework to be in a relationship in which the other person changes bodies every day. Some days A is a skinny nerd, other days he is a football player, and some days she’s a gorgeous black girl. Rhiannon struggles to see through the outer package, but even she admits that the A she pictures is a boy; it’s not that she doesn’t try, and she constantly questions her own inability to think past the stereotype, but every day is a battle between what she wants and what A actually is.

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Now, here’s the difficult part… how do I rate this? Getting to see Rhiannon’s side of the developing relationship, her confusion about A, these things made the novel unique from its predecessor. But the plot was the same. There were no surprises, because we have already seen most of the events from A’s point of view. So it’s a novel that has to balance solely on Rhiannon’s emotions, and the emotions of a teenage girl in love are not exactly stable support.

If I had never read Every Day, I would say that the novel is fantastic. I would give it five stars in a heartbeat, because the plot is original and the writing is witty and the characters are complicated and brilliant and utterly realistic in the way that only teenagers can be. But having read Every Day, I want to say this novel is just average, a 3/5 rating. It’s 300+ pages of a plot that I’ve already read (but really enjoyed, and didn’t mind re-reading), and the only new parts were when Rhiannon tries to work through her gender stereotyping and to understand that what’s inside doesn’t always match what’s outside.

So I’m going to split the difference here, and give this a 4 out of 5. Still recommended even if you’ve read Every Day, although I’d start with that one if you’re new to A and Rhiannon’s relationship.

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