Some may criticise the book – how can we learn anything about A, when A is someone new every day? Well, A is only a different person on the outside – A’s personality remains. One day A might be a male jock, the next a suicidal young girl, the day after a super-shy, hard-working young man. A is able to access the memories of the body they are inhabiting, to avoid any awkward situations, and can generally pick up how that person might typically react to a situation.
So one day, A wakes up in the body of Justin. A girl walks up to him in the school corridor, and it turns out that this is Rhiannon, Justin’s girlfriend. A immediately picks up on her body language around Justin, and her surprise when A treats her so well, that this is a relationship of convenience, not love. They ditch school and take a trip to the beach, where A gets to know Rhiannon – and falls in love with her.
Okay, so it doesn’t take A long to decide that it is love. But as you read about A’s life (or lives, I suppose), you realise that to A, that is love. A has never been loved before – how can they, when they’ve never been with the same people for more than a day? Never had a real parent, boyfriend, girlfriend, grandparent to love them? A may have heard declarations of love in the past, but they were to the people that A was inhabiting the bodies of, not A. For someone who has never really experienced any sort of emotional closeness this is a huge leap, so A instantly wants to see Rhiannon every day. Luckily, A only inhabits the body of a teenager within a certain distance – so as long as A stays in Maryland, A is near Rhiannon.
A frequent writer of LGBT fiction, Levithan continues here – A is genderless, and meets up with Rhiannon whether male or female. She often hesitates when interacting with female versions of A, but over time begins to get more comfortable as she gets more and more comfortable with the person inside. Although it’s not a total LGBT story, like Boy Meets Boy or Two Boys Kissing, I hope it will become just as important in that sub-genre. A appears as straight, gay, lesbian – all bases are covered, with sensitivity and realism. To me it was a wonderful commentary on the walls that race, gender and sexual orientation can sometimes unnecessarily create.
Levithan’s writing flows so smoothly, and each character that A becomes is unique and well thought over. I liked the fact that there wasn’t a perfect ending, and whilst it’s a sad story, you’re left satisfied that the author didn’t take the easy way. An unusual love story, it works so well on many levels.
But you know what was the best thing about this book? The very clear and loud message that whoever you are, whatever you look like, whoever you like – you’re important. You’re a person worthy of love and kindness. Your life is worth something.
After all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.