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.
I’ll be honest – when I was wishing for the sequel, I thought we’ll get a little more beyond the story of Every Day, particularly what A really is and how that body jumping thing works, as well as how that person who could stay actually did it/figured it out. What instead I got was the same story, from Rhiannon’s POV. Granted, I love the fact that we are getting some other parts of the story, as well as some blanks filled in, and why she is such a doormat when it came to Justin, a whole novel for it? Probably would have been better as a novella. The ending was sad, but perhaps not as much as when reading Every Day (perhaps I was desenstized since I just read that yesterday), but more importantly – damn I need some answers!
Now that that proclamation is out of the way, let me start by saying I loved how Leviathan handled this story. Rhiannon’s character is so well-written – she is not just some kind girl who suddenly became the light of A’s life. She is a survivor, a girl who learns to love beyond what she has been thinking she was meant to love. She has faced being almost suicidal, and she stops relying on other people for her happiness. At first, she is all about Justin – so much so that her friend Rebecca is us – why are you staying with such a jerk? But then you realize she is stuck – and until nearly the end, she doesn’t realize that she doesn’t have to be in another relationship to get out of the one with Justin. She does cheat on him, and while most books would have it like ‘he deserved it, he was such an asshole’, this book actually brings a little complexity to his character too. Sure, he is not a good person, but not the spawn of Satan either – just broken and she was thinking she could fix him. He was an asshole, though, and emotionally abusive – which is sometimes worse than being physically abusive.
The thing about Rhiannon’s situation is – she is heterosexual, and all her life she just sees love in the form of the person. She keeps wishing it was A in Justin’s body forever, and finds it very difficult to look past the package. She feels uncomfortable expressing affection when A is female. But eventually, she says this one quote I really loved from the book –
Part of the problem is words. The fact that there are separate words for he and she, him and her. I’ve never thought about it before, how divisive this is. Like maybe if there was just one pronoun for all of us, we wouldn’t get so caught on that difference.
Received a free galley from Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers via Netgalley; this does not affect my opinions or review.