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Every You, Every Me

Review

Every You, Every Me

“You know one me. Just like I know one you. But you can’t know every me, Evan. And I can’t know every you.”

Evan believes in his heart that he did know Ariel better than anyone, though the tragic events of recent weeks have made him question this. He remembers every conversation he and Ariel ever had. EVERY YOU, EVERY ME is Evan’s story of what happened between two friends and one mentally ill teenage girl they began dating.

Evan’s story shows very clearly what Ariel did when she led him on and leveled with him emotionally. Her uncommon connection with people seemed to make this possible. Evan has recorded his perceptions of how things went down between he and Ariel, including his sense of fear and terror that he might somehow have contributed to her undoing. He is clearly mortified with guilt and a sense of imbalance over his own tender emotional state. His story shows a broad range of feelings: humiliation, pain, panic, frustration, confusion. And we also realize there are signs that Evan is beginning to lose his grip on reality.

Evan’s collection of private thoughts and memories are all closely intertwined with the girl he fell in love with. Literally half his perceptions have been crossed out and more socially acceptable versions written in their place. The crossed-out thoughts represent Evan’s deepest, darkest truths ---- some a little disconcerting and some heartbreaking. Readers thus experience two different versions of his tale: the socially correct one and the more emotional story of a young man struggling through life and trying to cope with the shock of a terrible situation.

Evan’s story jumps back and forth and in time frequently, and the middle of the plot is revealed before the beginning is. In the first days when he met Ariel, he’d been elated to be the subject of her interest. Evan felt lucky to have been involved with such an unusual and beautiful creature, but she moved on all too quickly to date his best friend, Jack. Soon after sensing a special connection with her, Evan found out she was sleeping with Jack and became the middleman in a friendship that began with an awkward love triangle. Ariel had been a person he truly cared for, but he managed to remain friends with both Jack and her afterward. He always secretly felt, however, that he cared more for her than Jack ever had. What he had yet to realize was that Ariel was playing them both.

Clearly what happened to Ariel was the terrible consequence of a progressive mental illness, but for some reason, her parents blamed her friends for the destructive path she chose. Evan’s classmates now speak tragically about her, raising the question of exactly what happened. Clearly she is no longer attending school or living with her parents, and the very real possibility exists that she killed herself. Evan recalls the day Ariel drilled him about getting a gun for her. He is haunted by his own belief that both he and Jack deserve the blame her parents have thrown on them both.

Evan’s baseline stress builds to near-catastrophic levels when he begins receiving strange photographs of Ariel and other individuals (himself and Jack included) of places and events from the past. These images hint of harassment and show the involvement of a person who was secretly present, watching them spend time with Ariel. These are distorted versions of places and people, events that only Ariel would know about. Evan cannot help but feel compelled to investigate the source of the photographs, and yet his decision to pursue them ties him personally to his harasser and forces him also to consider the possibility that Ariel is haunting him or that he’s losing his mind.

EVERY YOU, EVERY ME is a very interesting photographic novel filled with clever and unusual images. The photography is continuous, artistic and fascinating, while the story itself is touching and presents quite a compelling mystery. The subject matter and careful concealment of plotlines make this a fascinating book that will leave readers awaiting the ending with baited breath.

Reviewed by Melanie Smith on November 7, 2011

Every You, Every Me
by David Levithan

  • Publication Date: September 13, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375860983
  • ISBN-13: 9780375860980