Every You, Every Me by David Levithan

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, YA
Length: Full length (256 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

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.
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Creatively told with black-and-white photos interspersed between the text so the reader can see the photos that are so unnerving to Evan, Every You, Every Me is a one-of-a-kind departure from a one-of-a-kind author.

Losing your best friend is hard enough. But what if you think you’re losing your mind, too? Ever since Ariel left, Evan’s found himself adrift. Unable to sleep or concentrate, he’s falling farther and farther into a dark hole of what ifs. But when he finds the first picture, he begins to wonder if there is more going on than he suspects.

I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Evan at first. You want to coddle this boy who has lost his best friend, but you also feel the need to shake some sense into him. However, as you get deeper into the story and begin to understand all that was going on with his friend, Ariel, it makes more sense why he’s being so hard on himself. Why these photos he’s finding are so important to figure out. Still, there are moments where he should have taken a step back and reevaluated his situation. He might have been able to better cope with certain things if he wasn’t forever pushing forward at a breakneck pace.

Although set in high school, the emotions and mental health struggles that both Evan and Ariel deal with throughout the story spoke to me on an adult level. So many times in our lives we’re going through something and believe that no one else will ever understand. That’s not unique to teens, it pursues us into our adult lives as well. It’s an unfortunate part of life, but one that most of us learn how to deal with in the end. I think that, by the end, Evan has started to understand this as well. It’s my hope for him anyway.

Told through both prose and a set of increasingly strange black and white photographs, Every You, Every Me isn’t your typical young adult fiction. This is a good part of the reason why I picked it up, I was intrigued by the concept of mixed media. In addition to the photographs, the story feels like an old journal entry, complete with random strike throughs in the text. Most of the time, the strikethroughs in the text make sense, as if Evan is editing his thoughts in real time, although there are moments where it didn’t seem to jive for me. In the end, Every You, Every Me is a tale of friendship, mystery, and finding mental wellness when you don’t think it’s possible.

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