Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
- Knopf, 2022
- Hardcover, 416 pages
- ISBN 978-0-5933-2120-1
When I was going through all the “best books of 2022” prompts and lists, somewhere—and I can’t remember exactly where—I came across the question “What was your most surprising read of 2022?” Any other year that question probably wouldn’t have stuck with me because I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers and am therefore usually not surprised by surprises. But this year I did read a book that surprised me: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.
This novel focuses on two characters, Sam Masur and Sadie Green, who first meet as adolescents and bond over video games while Sam is in the hospital recovering from an accident and Sadie is visiting her sick sister. Soon their circumstances change and they don’t see each other for about 10 years. Sam goes off to Harvard and Sadie to MIT, and one day their paths cross in a Boston MTA station. They decide to work together creating video games, and we’re off.
I’m way too old to have grown up with video games, but I did follow along as my daughter played Oregon Trail, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, and others. I didn’t pick up Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow for the video games, but rather for the Life Stories in Literature themes that make video gaming such a ripe metaphor for fiction: the question of identity, the possibilites of alternate lives, alternate selves, and starting over.
Life Stories in Literature
we are what we remember
inside vs. outside stories
hidden identities & secrets
creating/controlling one’s own narrative
alternate life options
turning points/life decisions
when/how lives intersect
multiple points of view
change your story, change your life
Zevin weaves the culture and process of video gaming into the story so seamlessly that I didn’t need first-hand experience of that world to appreciate the novel. Marx, Sam’s college roommate, joins Sadie and Sam in their gaming enterprise, and Zevin makes their intertwined lives so richly complex and credible that I was completely absorbed by their story.
Then, suddenly, about three-quarters of the way through the novel, I was surprised to find myself crying. I read this book while on vacation and wasn’t taking notes, so I can’t pinpoint the exact place in the story when this surprise occurred. But something in the story reminded me of these words:
Life is what happens to you,
While you’re busy making other plans.—Beautiful Boy by John Lennon
At the same time, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow reminded me of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which is among my top 5 novels of all time.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a novel I wish I could read again for the first time. I’ll definitely reread it, sometime when I can take notes to document how this talented writer constructed a novel that crept up and surprised me.
We are all living, at most, half of a life, she [Sadie] thought. There was the life that you lived, which consisted of the choices you made. And then, there was the other life, the one that was the things you hadn’t chosen. And sometimes, this other life felt as palpable as the one you were living.—Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, p. 142
© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown
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