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Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow


Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

At the intersection of engineering, art and storytelling is video game creation. Even those who aren’t gamers themselves can appreciate the artistry, skill, imagination and hard work that goes into making a successful video game. Gabrielle Zevin’s latest novel, TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, situates its exploration of friendship, love and work in the serious world of gaming fun.

Sadie Green and Sam Masur meet in a Los Angeles hospital day room when they are 11 years old. Sadie had been banished from visiting her 13-year-old sister’s room, and Sam, a long-term hospital resident recovering from a crippling car accident, was already there playing Super Mario Bros. The two begin playing the game together and spark an immediate friendship: Sam speaks for the first time since the accident that killed his mother and shattered his foot, and Sadie finds a social and intellectual partner. They both love video games, so Sadie continues to visit Sam in the hospital, racking up hundreds of hours with him (in a fateful decision to track them as a service project for her bat mitzvah).

"TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW is such a fantastic and memorable book.... Zevin so wonderfully captures the search for meaning and order in an unpredictable, sometimes dangerous and often very beautiful world."

However, Sadie and Sam eventually have a falling-out, setting a pattern that will repeat over the years. They won’t talk again until Sam spots Sadie at the train station between Harvard and MIT. Sam is at Harvard reluctantly studying math, while Sadie is enthusiastically studying to become a game designer at MIT. She’s in a relationship with one of her professors, a domineering gaming visionary named Dov Mizrah. Her friendship with Sam, rekindled at age 21, gives her a sanctuary from Dov but also a space to further her gaming skills --- as both a player and a creator.

Sam decides almost immediately that what he wants to do is make games with Sadie, so they start a company, Unfair Games, bringing in Sam’s other best friend, the charming, handsome and kind-hearted Marx Watanabe. They launch Ichigo, which draws on Japanese art and classic video games. It’s a wild success that bolsters their ambitions, challenges their creativity and tests their friendships. Sadie and Sam chase the next hit game, but what that means to each of them is different. All the while, they enter and exit romantic relationships, and work through the family dynamics that help make them who they are. Zevin is both unflinching and tender in her portrayals, which contributes to the book’s enjoyability; she clearly likes her characters but is honest about their flaws.

This is definitely a character-driven novel, but that doesn’t mean that Zevin skimps on her plotting or themes. Set over a few decades, the book is positioned to illuminate ideas about gender in gaming, from both the creator and player sides. Sadie is the engineer of Unfair’s most technical games, but Sam is generally assumed to be. He becomes the celebrity face of the company, and these public assumptions, coupled with the many complications of their friendship, often causes tension between them. There is so much more that Zevin packs into this novel. A review won’t do it justice; only reading it will do!

Stories of human relationships are, of course, commonplace, but Zevin’s book really shines. From the various Anna Lees who influence Sam to the contrast between Dov and Marx that Sadie finds to be life-changing, from the illness of a sibling to the wisdom of pizza-making grandparents, each relationship, however brief or fundamental, is shown to be impactful in ways that feel all too real. And none of this even mentions the confrontations of violence with which Zevin punctuates the story, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, or the plays of Shakespeare that she employs in inventive and compelling ways.

TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW is such a fantastic and memorable book. While no novel is perfect, and there are some places where Zevin could’ve done better, the shortcomings are easily overlooked as readers find themselves immersed in Sam and Sadie’s lives. They move from coast to coast and back again, grow up, play and build together, and love each other, even when they are angry, lonely and disappointed. Zevin so wonderfully captures the search for meaning and order in an unpredictable, sometimes dangerous and often very beautiful world.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on July 8, 2022

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
by Gabrielle Zevin

  • Publication Date: July 5, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 0593321200
  • ISBN-13: 9780593321201