"Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: A Novel" | Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider
One must caution against judging people, or books, based on their appearance or what one has heard about them. I almost refused a newly released book when I read it was about game designers. The book’s edgy cover didn’t sell me either.
Fortunately, I set my preconceived notions aside and dove into “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin. This engrossing contemporary novel about love and friendship is incredibly creative, wise and philosophical, and features flawed characters who become so real they climb right off the page. Sometimes I found myself advising them aloud, and repeating quotes that were so beautiful I wanted to commit them to memory.
Sam Masur is a student at Harvard when he inadvertently runs into Sadie Green, a student at MIT. Sam capitalizes on the happenstance. He’s thought about her plenty in the years since their original meeting, when their budding friendship took root at a children’s hospital.
Sadie was there to visit her older sister, who had leukemia, and Sam was there for yet another surgery on his foot, which was crushed when a car hit the vehicle his mother was driving. The two were bored in the hospital with little to do, and they bonded in the game room playing “Nintendo.” (Initially Sadie doesn’t want to tell Sam her sister has cancer, “…the destroyer of natural conversation,” and told him her sister was suffering from dysentery.)
Sadie becomes a good friend and source of support for Sam, who was so traumatized by the accident he hadn’t spoken to anyone until he met Sadie. The friends, however, have a falling out in the hospital and loose contact until their fateful meeting as college students—one that concludes with Sadie giving Sam a disc with “Solution” on it, a game she’s created in a college class taught by a genius gamer/professor Sadie admires. When Sam gets back to his dorm room, he and his roommate Marx give it a go and are impressed.
Sam and Sadie eventually repair, or at least half-way repair, the rift in their relationship. They combine their talents to create games and form a business partnership, bringing Marx on board too. As they become increasingly successful in the world of video games, the trio mature, but are buffeted about by life. Sam continues to deal with a foot that’s failing him and Sadie remains in the clutches of a romantic relationship that grows increasingly abusive. Of the three, it’s Marx who remains calm in the storm, the voice of reason in volatile situations.
In reading “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow,” I gained an appreciation for video games I hadn’t had before. Though Sam, Sadie and Marx provide entertainment and escape for themselves and others, in the end they can’t forego the harsh realities of life and its brevity.