by David Levithan
Middle School, High School Knopf 325 pp.
8/12 978-0-307-93188-7 $16.99
Library ed. 978-0-375-97111-2 $19.99
e-book ed. 978-0-307-97563-8 $10.99
“A,” the narrator of Levithan’s brilliantly conceived novel, wakes up in a different sixteen-year-old’s body every morning and has to adjust to different physical characteristics, a different family, a different school, different friends. The process does have certain parameters. For instance, A always wakes up in bodies that match his/her (the protagonist is, in essence, gender neutral) age and never travels far geographically unless the host body does. A realizes that this way of life is unique, but over the years s/he has come to terms with it. “I’m never going to figure it out, any more than a normal person will figure out his or her own existence. After a while, you have to be at peace with the fact that you simply are.” But what happens when A falls in love? Levithan poses this question early in the novel and then shapes the narrative into a profound exploration of what it means to love someone. Before meeting Rhiannon, A responsibly tried not to make waves in his/her hosts’ lives, like a camper who leaves a campsite as clean as it was found. But now s/he “hijacks” bodies, making them drive to meet Rhiannon at parties and coffee shops. In one instance A strands a host, Cinderella-like, by the side of the road at midnight so that the boy awakens in his car, ranting that he was the victim of demonic possession. “I am not the devil,” A thinks. So who is s/he? What is his/her place in the world? Readers will savor every word of A’s attempt to figure that out.
From the November/December 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.