Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 2022. 401 pages, $28.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin is a love story between two characters who never have a romantic relationship. Through masterful storytelling, Zevin tells the story of Sam and Sadie, two complicated people who keep finding their way back to each other.
One cold day in December, Sam Masur spots Sadie Green at a subway stop in Massachusetts. Sam and Sadie used to be best friends, but a falling out years prior led to them losing touch until years later. Now in their early twenties, this chance encounter leads to the old friends reconnecting and bonding over the shared interest which first brought them together as children, video games. Sadie is at MIT, designing games that her classmates hate, but her professor Dov finds brilliant. When Sam and his roommate, the irresistibly charming and good-natured Marx, play one of Sadie’s games, they decide to collaborate on a video game of their own. The protagonist of Ichigo is a small child, who is swept out to sea by a giant wave. With limited tools, players must find a way to guide this child back to sea. Through connections provided by Dov, Sam and Sadie, and their producer Marx, sell Ichigo to a larger company, and it becomes an immediate success. This also brings about the creation of their company, Unfair Games, which will serve as Sam and Sadie’s life work.
While the story is full of personal and professional highs for the characters, tragedy is always lurking in the background. Sam and Sadie first meet in the hospital when Sam is recovering from a life-altering accident, and Sadie’s sister Alice undergoes cancer treatment. Sadie later finds herself in an abusive relationship with her professor Dov, and even when she is free of the relationship, she still finds herself seeking his approval, and his presence throughout the story feels invasive. Racism, sexism, suicide, homophobia, depression, and gun violence all impact the characters’ lives in major ways, and it feels like in spite of reaching great success, Sam and Sadie are never able to truly enjoy it.
What makes Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow a fantastic read is Gabrielle Zevin’s extraordinary writing. Much like in a friendship, where secrets are gradually revealed the more you get to know someone, Zevin often hints at occurrences before she eventually reveals the full story. Zevin takes the narrative back and forth through time effortlessly. While some supporting characters could be slightly more fleshed out, Sam and Sadie have rich character development, and readers can understand their motivations, even through their more selfish actions.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is at its core a story about two friends who in spite of their best efforts, need each other. Though they have many falling-outs and failures to communicate, they always manage to find their way back to each other and they are at their best when they are collaborating. With beautiful writing and a narrative that will hook readers, this story is not to be missed.
Elizabeth Weislak is the Youth Services Coordinator for the Alamance County Public Libraries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.