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Is "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow" The Best Novel of 2022?

A review of Gabrielle Zevin's 2022 novel

By J. S. WongPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
Photo of "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow" taken by the author

Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is one of my favorite books of all time. When her latest novel Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow came out in 2022, I wanted to read it even before I saw the premise. And when it won the Goodreads Award for best fiction, and accumulated high ratings, I knew it was a must-read.

One day in December during his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur runs into his childhood friend Sadie Green who he met while recovering in a hospital after a tragic accident. Although they haven’t spoken for eight years, she gives him a video game she made and asks for his feedback. This begins their creative partnership that launches them into the spotlight. Before they graduate college, they release their first hit, Ichigo. Despite their success, their creative ambitions pull them apart and back together again.

“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

I went into Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow trying withhold any expectations and comparisons to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. The book started a bit slow, though it gradually won me over with its characters.

Despite the literary pacing and nonlinear structure (the story spans decades), Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow kept me engaged. The book is divided into ten sections, covering Sam and Sadie’s childhood all the way to their mid 30s. While I would’ve preferred more real time scenes rather than telling, Zevin’s narration keeps it interesting. In addition, some sections take on a more experimental style like the penultimate section taking place in a game and one changing to second person POV.

As a story about video games, Zevin draws from her love of games, specifically from her childhood as a Gen Xer, referencing titles like The Oregon Trail from the 80s and 90s. Because I used to play video games as a kid and teen I knew some of the references, though if you’re an avid gamer or work in the industry you might have a greater appreciation. Nonetheless, you don’t have to be a gamer to appreciate this novel. Anyone with an interest in the creative process will be able to relate.

Games aside, the best part of the book were the characters. At its core, the story is about friendship. Deep platonic relationships are undervalued in comparison to their romantic counterparts, so it was great to see it portrayed with Sam and Sadie. Sometimes we meet people who click with us and those are the ones we keep for life.

“His mistake had been in thinking the world would be filled with Sadie Greens, people like her. It was not. His high school certainly hadn’t been. He had held out some hope that Harvard might be, but college had proven especially disappointing on this front. There were smart people, yes. There were people with whom you might have a decent conversation for twenty minutes. But to find someone who you wanted to talk to for 609 hours — that was rare.” — Gabrielle Zevin, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Even though I’m not a fan of omniscient POVs, it works for this novel given the huge span of time covered. Although we don’t get to know the characters as closely as you would with first person or third person limited narration, we still get an intimate look into the evolution of a friendship. I can see how the POV choice was necessary or else we couldn’t get to spend years and decades with Sam, Sadie, and Marx.

I liked how the story portrayed the ups and downs in a friendship, especially ones we’ve had since childhood. Fights and disagreements inevitably happen and people can grow closer or further apart with time. However, when a bond can endure those challenges, it can reveal how special those relationships are. For Sam and Sadie, their love for games is the piece that brings them together again.

As with contemporary and literary fiction, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow tackles many timeless and universal themes, most notably love. Zevin seamlessly weaves in reflections on life. There were many quotable moments speaking to the human condition, ranging from time, grief, impermanence, creativity, and possibility. For instance, this part sums up the theme evoked by the title:

“She had thought she had arrived. But life was always arriving. There was always another gate to pass through (until, of course, there wasn’t). What was a gate anyway? A doorway, she thought. A portal. The possibility of a different world. The possibility that you might walk through the door and reinvent yourself as something better than you had been before.” — Gabrielle Zevin, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Considering I haven’t read as much contemporary fiction lately or any other Goodreads fiction nominees from 2022, I can’t say if Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is the best novel of that year. While it’s not the best book I ever read, it’s an excellent one. While it didn’t have the same charm as The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Zevin has written another heartfelt book worth reading.

Originally published on Medium


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J. S. Wong

Fiction writer, compulsive book reviewer, horror/Halloween fan. Subscribe if you like stories on writing, books, and reading!

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