“You know one me. Just like I know one you. But you can’t know every me. And I can’t know every you,” is the entire book summed up in one quote. People show multiple, one, or no sides to people, but you can’t ever know every me. In “Every You Every Me” by David Levithan, Evan was terrified of this idea that what he did to Ariel was wrong, but it was better off than dead.
Ariel, as you find in the story was depressive, had anxiety problems, and was schizophrenic. Evan is reminded of what he did to Ariel, when he receives photos of her, himself, and her ex-boyfriend, John, thinking she was trying to tell him something. As her best friend, he felt like he betrayed her. Her ex-boyfriend seems not to care, but during the story he opens up to the hatred for her and tries to get Evan to see it too. Evan is too much in love with her that he refuses to look at her in that light. He’s tortured by the photos so much that he begins to rethink that sending her to a mental hospital* was worse off than death. All the while he has no idea who’s sending these pictures** until it’s later revealed to be a girl named Dana.
Dana defended Ariel’s right to her wish and is angry at them for sending her to a mental hospital. She explains Schizophrenia in a light I’ve never thought of before when she says, “She isn’t crazy… She sees through all the phoniness. She sees what the world is really like. And the world can’t stand girls like that. The world has to put them in their place, put them away. You wanted her to be this uncomplicated girl but by trying to force her to be that girl, you unraveled her.”
Basically she was saying that Evan and John took away Ariel’s right to end her own life if she wanted to, to achieve her sense of freedom. She sent the photos to remind them of Ariel and the choices they made that went against Ariel’s wishes. She also said something that stood out to me.
“You have no idea how much I think about her. And what you did to her. If it weren’t for you she’d still be here now… And I know that she wouldn’t’ have wanted you to get away with it… She didn’t want help. She wanted freedom,” she said. The first part suggests that they killed her and in a way they made her into something she wasn’t, killed her mentality essentially, but on further analysis “killing her” was not meant to be in the literal form. They did what they thought was best for her.
Evan has this revelation that Dana cannot hurt him any longer with the choice he made and adds, “At least now I have more photos of her,” he said. He goes on to explain that Dana cannot take away the right for him to move on. At the end it is revealed that Dana was tortured as well. She sent Ariel letters. Ariel read them. Ariel never wrote back.
Many literary themes popped up in this book, but a couple I most liked was flashbacks and repetition. Two particular flashbacks that come to mind are “ Let’s always love each other, and never in love with each other,” and “The train comes. If you stay on the tracks, you die. If you jump off the bridge, you die… There’s always a train coming eventually.” With the first one it was a real turning point in Evan’s story. He knew that he was in love with Ariel, but this is the first time he really grasped what Ariel was trying to mean when she says the quote “you know one me…” later on in the story.
The second quote is the first real sign that she really accepts death, not necessarily wants it yet, but this is the point in the story, the first clear sign that she is thinking about it. It wasn’t until she said, “I need a gun,” that he grabbed hold of all that she was trying to mean. I think this literary themes was used well to bring a new tone to the story and Evan’s reflections thereafter.
The second literary theme that stood out was repetition. A quote that was very intriguing was “I wish I had known what was wrong with you. I still wish I knew what was wrong with you.” I think this was used well to explain just how Evan feels, tortured by thinking if what he had done to Ariel was right.
I do recommend this book, very short, easy to understand, but the emotions evoked make it a hard read. The best parts were Evan’s slow and rapid paces of development, understanding, and reflections toward life and about Ariel. We saw a way in which to truly understand what Evan is going through. The weakest parts were when the author provided too much tension and didn’t have the story calm down; meaning too much tension and not enough loose calm feeling to balance out the story, leaving it very unsatisfying to comprehend Ariel’s side on a much wider scale: I couldn’t understand that much of her.
What should have happened was the author should have left Ariel’s journals so that the reader can best understand Ariel’s thinking. I recommend this book, very fantastic, the style is wonderful, storytelling keeps the reader intrigued and because I flat-out liked it.
*Although they don’t say it exactly there is plenty of evidence to support that that is where they sent her.
**for a time he would imagine it was her – Ariel