Saturday, August 25, 2012

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan

Whenever David Levithan releases a new book, it's always interesting to see what kind of style he has chosen. His groundbreaking first novel, Boy Meets Boy, is not only an upbeat gay YA romance, but also features a high school where nobody blinks an eye at a flamboyant drag queen being both homecoming queen and quarterback of the football team. The Lover's Dictionary is a novel told in vignettes. Love Is the Higher Law is a 9/11 story told in three voices. Levithan's collaborative work with other authors (Rachel Cohn -- Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and others; and John Green -- Will Grayson, Will Grayson) can be counted on for memorable voices in YA literature.

In Every You, Every Me, Levithan collaborated with photographer Jonathan Farmer, using each new photo Farmer supplied as a prompt to direct where he would go next in his suspenseful story about teens dealing with mental illness. In addition to the artwork, the novel contains words and entire passages that are crossed out. The strikethrough text allows readers to follow the narrator's thought process as he sorts out what he wants to say:

"They looked like they were happy vulnerable flirting together."

"Your life is inescapable. Unless you decide to escape it."

Evan was Ariel's best friend. Jack was Ariel's boyfriend. Ariel is "gone" (where?) and someone is leaving mysterious photo clues for Evan and Jack. Something sinister seems to be going on. Who can Evan trust? How well did he really know Ariel? Or Jack?

Unusually for Levithan, there's no queer content in this one. It's the format that is the biggest attraction. In fact, the style initially seemed to trump the story itself, but it's a quick read. Even though I didn't get emotionally involved with the characters, I felt intellectually stimulated. I'm still thinking about it, several days later.

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