Basically, since the beginning of the pandemic, I don’t often seek out books that aren’t going to be super light, super fun and something easy to breeze through. Still, when I read about Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (author of The Storied Like of A.J. Firky, which I have not read yet, but of which I’ve heard only fantastic things), I was intrigued by the fact that it was self-described as a love story spanning decades that wasn’t all at typical or like anything I’d read before. That is a bold statement, so there was no way I wasn’t going to read this book.
On a bitter-cold day in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favours, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.
I finished this book more than a few days ago, and I’m still sitting with it because I’m not sure I can adequately articulate how I feel about it. It was long (like really long) and took me almost a month to read cover to cover—which is an eternity for me—because it was deep, complicated, very well written and also a bit frustrating (by design). I think about the characters often, even now in my real life, and though I enjoyed it, I’m having difficulty explaining my experience.
We first meet Sam and Sadie as tweens and follow them through to middle age—so I feel like we know these people by the end of the book. They are both heavily flawed, selfish, determined and stubborn, but also incredibly smart and loving in their unique ways. Although they’re best friends, there are multiple sections of the book where they aren’t talking to each other because of a small misunderstanding that they could have had a five-minute conversation about, which is frustrating to the reader, but they’re also so hyperfocused on what’s happening in their lives that you forgive them for it in the end. The addition of Marx, the third member of their trio, was brilliant on Gabrielle’s side because he’s the person the rest of us can probably relate to most. He’s such a light and adds necessary fun to the story.
I wish Zevin would have given us a bit more of Sam’s grandparents throughout the story because they were fascinating characters I wanted to know more about. The same would be said about Sadie’s family, I think, because we see them when she’s a kid, and her sister is mentioned here and there throughout, but I found it strange that they just dropped off the planet. I know adults don’t tend to rely on their parents as much when they’re off building their careers, but Sadie was even living with them for a while after college, and we didn’t get much insight there. It might have helped me understand her a bit more—I felt like I got Sam more than her, and I’m not sure why.
I’m a person who likes to play video games, but I don’t know much about their history and I only really know about the games I like to play, so I was worried that I’d be a bit lost here. As long as you’re familiar with Oregon Trail, I don’t think the references are needed to understand what’s happening. Other than that one and Donkey Kong (and Ms. Pac-Man), I didn’t know any of the games they were playing, and I didn’t need it to fill in any gaps, so don’t worry about that if you’re not a gamer, but there are a few chapters that take place in a video game (it makes sense when you read it), so if you don’t like them, I would maybe pass on this one.
If you’re looking for something different, something complicated and a love story that is genuinely unlike anything you’ve ever read, definitely reach for Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, because I don’t think you’ll get another chance to experience a story like this for a long time.
“What is a game?” Marx said. “It’s tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It’s the possibility of infinite rebirth, infinite redemption. The idea that if you keep playing, you could win. No loss is permanent, because nothing is permanent, ever.” —Gabrielle Zevin, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for the advanced copy, and to Ella Don on Unsplash for the featured photo.