"Everyday" tackles sexual identity

The author chose to include a character that is neither a boy nor girl. 

Waking up, showering, eating breakfast and leaving for school are all part of a daily morning routine that teenagers might follow. For 16-year-old “A,” these monotonous morning routines are no different, but with one exception— A experiences them in a different life every day.

New York Times best-seller “Every Day,” written by David Levithan, follows the unique story of A, a person who wakes up every day in a different body living a different life. A spends day after day inhabiting a different body and pretending to be the person without making any variations in their personality or life. However, all of this changes when A wakes up one day as 16-year-old Justin and falls in love with his neglected girlfriend, Rhiannon. After that, A’s resigned life of living as others turns to chaos as it fights for its own happiness and begins disrupting the lives it inhabits to be with Rhiannon.

While “Every Day” is the first novel of its collection, the movie adaptation is more in accordance with its successor, “Another Day,” that follows the same storyline but in the perspective of Rhiannon. Even though this still follows the same plot, the movie misses a lot of important factors that come from learning A’s perspective by following its path of self-discovery. Without A’s point of view, there are many plot holes that aren’t explained and important events that are left out.

One of A’s largest internal struggles that is not seen in the movie is the desire to stay in one life for more than just one day. A frequently recounts memories of past days of switching from body to body and experiencing the beautiful moments and relationships of each person. When A talks about its past and childhood, A mentions how it used to try and fight the universe and would throw tantrums because A didn’t want to leave the families it was with. When A meets Rhiannon, this struggle of wanting to stay longer resurfaces for A because it wants to have a real life with her and spend every day together like a normal person.

Despite how important these thoughts are to A in the novel, the movie hardly brings it up unless explaining A’s past in order for the audience to make sense of what’s going on. In the movie it’s made to seem as if A has control of how long it can stay in a body, but chooses not to. A’s conflicting morals keep it from staying for longer because A believes it’s stealing their life away by doing so. While this is still a somewhat relevant internal battle to the plot, it doesn’t fully explain how important it is that A begins to disrupt the lives he inhabits to be with Rhiannon, and doesn’t address the real reason why A leaves towards the end. There’s a revelation that A reaches at the end of the novel due to these internal struggles that the movie doesn’t even incorporate, and that completely takes away from A’s character development.

Even with the movie’s focus on Rhiannon and her journey of meeting A, it still fails to address the conflict she has with herself and the entire situation like the novel does; instead it takes an entirely new approach. In the movie, Rhiannon struggles with her family life and the relationship she has with her parents. Whether this is a part of “Another Day” is unknown to me, but since the movie is based off of “Every Day,” it completely deviates with this storyline. Personally, I am a fan of bringing in Rhiannon’s family life, I think it builds her character a bit more; However, I still think the movie should’ve addressed the issues she has with accepting A.

Throughout a majority of the novel, Rhiannon is conflicted over her boyfriend Justin, who she still loves and doesn’t want to give up on. The movie makes it seem like Rhiannon abandons Justin for A because they have a better connection, but a majority of the novel consists of A pushing Rhiannon to see how toxic Justin is to her, and Rhiannon not knowing who to go for.

Rhiannon also continuously struggles with the concept of A’s life; she spends a significant portion of the novel questioning it and has trouble accepting A every time they meet when A is in a different body. One of the biggest themes of the novel is the social construction of gender. To A, it’s what’s on the inside that matters, but A has trouble getting Rhiannon to see past the bodies and fall in love with his soul instead. A doesn’t personally see itself as a boy or girl, but just as a person— and A has no preference for either as well. The movie hardly touches on this subject, and even limits the bodies of A by showing more males and not highlighting the different types of relationships that were represented throughout the novel.

Overall, the movie falls short of the expectations of the novel. The main character is underdeveloped and hardly elaborated on, missing some of the most important lessons A learns. What could’ve been a great social commentary that promotes “love is love,” is reduced to yet another cheesy love story.Two people attempt to overcome the challenges of an unusual life, but are thwarted by reality. 

Contact Brittany Bell at bellbl@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.

Brittany Bell is a senior writer for the Culture section of The Breeze. She’s a sophomore double major in Media Arts & Design, concentration in Journalism, and Writing Rhetoric and Technical Communication.