Saturday, February 2, 2013
GROUNDHOG DAY, and EVERY DAY by David Levithan
Well, it's GROUNDHOG DAY. Again.
I've got you, babe. I've got you to walk with me, I've got you to talk with me. I've got you to hold my hand. I've got you to understand. If we've got love, we've got everything, including a song that's sunny to share.
We've celebrated Groundhog Day on this blog before, at this link, and at this link. We never tire of it. Two weeks ago, my wife was making her first yearly batch of ginger Groundhog Day cookies, some of which were shipped out to relatives.
Originally, according to the backstory on the Groundhog Day DVD, the spiritual "It's A Wonderful Life" was slated to be showing at the town theater, but they changed it to a more jerky and materialistic Clint Eastwood flick. Too bad, for Groundhog Day owes much to the Jimmy Stewart film, and of course, to Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
These stories celebrate free will, our ability to chose love and kindness over material things and self-agrandizement. Our ability to chose the glass-half-full.
There are now derivative books and movies galore spawned by these works and their wider cultural influence, and I say the more the merrier. I discuss time, Zola Budd, and the movie Run Zola Run at this link.
Which brings me to David Levithan's novel, Every Day (2012), in which an everyman jumps from body to body, a different one every day. Just as in Groundhog Day, there is no concrete explanation as to why this is, it just happens, like life itself.
The protagonist jumps into all kinds of people, but always into those of his own approximate age and locality. He has to grapple with race and gender issues, with physical, emotional, and mental handicaps, and most importantly, with identity and ethical issues. He has to decide whether to leave his temporary personage better off than he found it. Complicating this, he begins to fall in love with a girl.
So, the story winds humorously around his dilemma, as he tries to cope with his always-temporary status, eventually discovering for himself the difference between a stalking, possessive love and actual loving. We get love when we let it go.
David Levithan's Every Day seems to have made all of the Best YA Novel lists for last year, but it made some of the mainstream lists too. It would have made mine, had I read it last year. It deals with some YA issues, but at the end there is a maturity that escapes most adults in these United States. Sometimes the best thing we can do for those we love is to leave them alone.
I thought the book's hardcover dustjacket a bit bland at first, but it has the white crosses on it like crossroads, dividing sections of a multiverse of lives. And now that I reconsider it, there are clouds everywhere, from both sides now, clouds even on the frontiespiece. Sort of like the opening of the movie, Groundhog Day.