David Levithan might take an unusually philosophical approach to the idea of occupying someone else's body in Every Day, but he's hardly the first person to explore it in fiction. Here are just a few other great examples, which run the gamut from light-hearted to more serious:
The classic book in the "body swap" genre is, of course, Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers. Originally published in 1972, the humorous story imagines what would happen if eternally bickering teenage daughter Annabelle Andrews switched bodies with her mother. The book has been adapted for the screen several times, and also sparked several sequels, including Summer Switch, in which Annabelle's younger brother switches bodies with their high-powered executive father.
Airhead by Meg Cabot, published in 2008, takes another lighthearted approach to this idea. A nerdy girl named Em suffers a freak accident at an electronics megastore at the same time supermodel Nikki is making an appearance. When Em wakes up, she discovers that her brain has been transplanted into Nikki's body. Em learns to live in a different body while gradually gaining compassion for perfect Nikki and also trying to reconnect with the boy she secretly loves. Airhead has two sequels: Being Nikki and Runaway.
Eva by Peter Dickinson, published in 1988, is a more straightforward science fiction novel. In a near future in which human civilization has practically destroyed other animal species, Eva is horribly injured in a car accident. Her father, a scientist, plans to preserve her consciousness by placing her brain into the body of one of the chimps on which he conducts research. Dickinson's novel raises profound questions about evolution and about human kinship with animals.
Finally, although there are certainly dozens of other examples of worthwhile "body swap" novels to explore, one that more mature teens should not overlook is This Body by Laurel Doud, published in 2000. Subtitled "a novel of reincarnation," it imagines that a middle-aged housewife, having died suddenly, is reincarnated in the body of a much younger woman who is addicted to drugs and alcohol. At once an intelligent exploration of second chances and a witty riff on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Doud's novel is a thoughtful approach to the "body swap" genre.
This article was originally published in October 2012, and has been updated for the
September 2013 paperback release.
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