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Book Review: A triumph in storytelling in "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow"

As much as I’m a fan of a true love story, I’m also a fan of love stories that don’t follow the typical love trope. Think love stories about family, friendship, and artistic collaborations––this is where best-selling author Gabrielle Zevin’s latest novel “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” falls into place.

On a fateful day in sunny California, young Sam and Sadie meet in a hospital game room and form a 30-year-long friendship over their love of video games. After falling out as kids, the two go their separate ways. Still, as fate would have it, the friends are drawn together to create their first legendary game, Ichigo, before they even graduate college. Suddenly, the world is in the palms of their hands. By 25 years old, Sam and Sadie are wildly successful and wealthy from their lucrative collaborations. Still, betrayals and ambitions implode their friendship as they navigate the harsh realities of life. This isn’t your average love story, but “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is a love letter to friendship, creativity, and the human connection at its heart.

Zevin writes “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” from Sam and Sadie’s perspectives and jumps back in time frequently to walk readers through their unconventional love story and creative collaboration. Neither Sam nor Sadie are saints––both are frustrating, arrogant, jealous, endearing, and deeply flawed characters, making this novel a bit exasperating but for a good reason. Their relationship evolves as their games take off and creative ambitions bloom; nevertheless, money and miscommunication are ultimately their downfalls.

Not only are Sam and Sadie lovingly nuanced, but secondary characters like Marx, Anna, Dov, Dong Hyun, and Bong Cha are also given their dues with multidimensional characterizations. They aren’t sidelined for Sam and Sadie’s primary story.

Much of the novel blurs the lines between reality and game worlds, each game providing insights into their emotions and the state of Sam and Sadie’s relationship with marvelous dexterity and intelligence. I’m not sure how much research or experience Zevin has with video games, but the novel captures the otherworldliness and awe of virtual reality with the precision of a game developer.

On top of Zevin’s excellent character and world development, she weaves themes surrounding disability, failure, identity, racism, technology, redemption, and grief lovingly. Sam’s disability is displayed with respect and shows the realities, fears, and insecurities associated with noticeable disabilities. Fair warning, there are many trigger warnings such as self-harm, suicide ideation, gun violence, sexual abuse/predation, and death. At times, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is a difficult read. Still, it feels almost necessary to read every page and accept the joys and terrors of life without flinching.

Deeply imaginative, riveting, and heartbreaking–but also heart-mending, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is a book that will sit with you long after you finish.

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