Title: Every You, Every Me
Author: David Levithan (site) & Jonathan Farmer
Format: Hardcover, 245 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
“In this high school-set psychological tale, a tormented teen named Evan starts to discover a series of unnerving photographs—some of which feature him. Someone is stalking him . . . messing with him . . . threatening him. Worse, ever since his best friend Ariel has been gone, he's been unable to sleep, spending night after night torturing himself for his role in her absence. And as crazy as it sounds, Evan's starting to believe it's Ariel that's behind all of this, punishing him. But the more Evan starts to unravel the mystery, the more his paranoia and insomnia amplify, and the more he starts to unravel himself.”
How it starts:
As Evan heads home from school, on his usual route through the woods, what does he find on the ground but an envelope. It couldn’t have been there long, it was raining and the envelope isn’t even wet. Upon opening it, Evan finds a small black and white photograph (picture printed in book) of exactly where he is standing. How strange.
On his way to school early the next day, he finds another envelope with another black and white in it (also printed in the book. Notice a theme?). Except this time, it’s a picture of him. As time goes on, Evan and his friend Jack get more pictures, even some of their friend Ariel who is gone. Who is taking the pictures? Who saw them that day?
This book is part contemporary, part psychological thriller. There’s not only the mystery of who took the pictures and is stalking Evan and Jake, but we also see Evan dealing with grief and depression. He is a very saddened human being. He is completely wracked with grief and some self loathing, just trying to hold it together. There is no doubt that this is a very emotional book that may even move you to tears.
The thriller part obviously has to with finding out who took the pictures and is stalking Evan and Jack. I wasn’t ever “bored” exactly, but in the beginning it’s hard to understand what’s going on because there isn’t any elaboration on the past, or really who the characters are. That was my only real problem with the book. I think that is how it’s supposed to be though. Toward the end, you really get all the pieces to the puzzle. I still would have preferred the book be easier to understand from the get go.
Every You, Every Me has a different writing style than I’ve seen in any of Levithan’s work before. The writing is more raw and rough, in a way, as if coming straight from the characters thoughts.
The process of writing this novel was also unique. As explained at the back of the book, Farmer would take a picture and give it to Levithan. And then Levithan would write a chapter of the book for each photo. The photographer didn’t read the first draft until the whole story was finished.
This really gave a sense of authenticity in the writing. It really felt like Evan had no inclination as to whom the photos were coming from or why. There weren’t any obvious clues as to who the culprit is. As the reader, I was left as stumped as the characters. I wish other books weren’t so obvious with little “clues”.
I really especially love this quote from the book, also featured on the back cover. “You know one me. Just like I know one you. But you can’t know every me. And I can’t know every you.” It is beautifully written, and it rings so true. That everyone kind of shows a different person to everyone else. Almost like wearing a mask. Basically, I may think I know “Bob” but I might see a different Bob than the one I know through someone else’s eyes.
I really liked this book. It was kind of hard to understand for the first 80 pages or so, but it was well worth sticking with. The fictional story paired with photographs created a really unique reading experience. I’m giving Every You, Every Me 4 of 5 stars! It was a truly great read.