Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
When a book comes into my orbit multiple times, I embrace it as a sign of destiny. My choice for the August book review was like that. It popped up in a few Instagram stories from fellow book lovers and then directly in a text from a good friend who knows my taste. Doesn't it feel good to be known? In an effort to keep things fresh, I posted on my social media that I would be reviewing this book and invited my friends to read along.
The book is Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, and it turned out to be exactly the book I had been searching for all summer. I say this because while I cannot put my finger on exactly what I have been hunting for, I knew I would know it when I found it. There have been some good ones this summer, but not THE one.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow was beyond. In short, it is the story of two friends who meet as children under dire circumstances and connect over a shared love of video games. Bear with me. You do not have to be a video game lover to be pulled in by this book. They reconnect in Boston years later while attending college and begin a journey to create video games together. The story spans from the mid-70s through the early 2000s, when video games were ever evolving. If you are between the ages of 38-70, the nostalgia will take you right back to playing Donkey Kong at Silverball and The Oregon Trail in the elementary school computer lab.
One thing that stuck out to me was how Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow explores the nuances of the character relationships: familial relationships, grief relations, romantic relations, and race relations. I felt connected to the deep dive into the platonic relationships between best friends, partners, creators, and colleagues. The idea that soul mate relationships are not always romantically linked and how mutual respect can find a way to overcome betrayal and the survivor's guilt in the aftermath of a mass shooting. There is no stone left unturned when it comes to the character development in this book. I felt so deeply connected to their humanity that, at one point, I searched for them on Instagram to get a glimpse into their online persona.
I thought about them when it was over and missed them when they were gone. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow was not predictable and kept me guessing and also enthralled in its entirety.
To quote Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow:
"Sam used to say that Marx was the most fortunate person he had ever met – he was lucky with lovers, in business, in looks, in life. But the longer Sadie knew Marx, the more she thought Sam hadn't truly understood the nature of Marx's good fortune. Marx was fortunate because he saw everything as if it were a fortuitous bounty."
"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."
"Nice try, handsome," Sadie said. "Next."
"Every time I run into you for the rest of our lives, I'll ask you to make a game with me. There's some groove in my brain that insists it is a good idea."
"Isn't that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result."
"That's a game character's life, too," Sam said. "The world of infinite restarts. Start again at the beginning, this time you might win. And it's not as if all our results were bad. I love the things we made. We were a great team."
Sam offered Sadie his hand, and she shook it. She pulled him into her, and she kissed Sam on the cheek. "I love you, Sadie," Sam said.
"I know, Sam. I love you, too."
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is the kind of book that I could recommend to almost anyone. Do you love science fiction? This is for you. Romance is what you fancy? This is for you. Beautiful writing speaks to you? This is for you. It made me think, and it made me feel. I re-read the last page through tears because I did not want it to be over, and truthfully, I had a hard time letting go of the characters. If only I could press restart for a new life like in a video game.