Book Review

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Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin 2022. Knopf. 401 pp.

Not every reader will enjoy this book, but there is something in it for nearly every reader. Its author, Gabrielle Zevin, is certainly a member of the technological generation, which will leave some members of a different generation baffled by the myriad details in a story about video game geniuses. As the book opens, three college students–Sadie Green, Sam Masur and Marx Watanabe– team together to produce a blockbuster game, Ichigo, that makes them famous and wealthy. As the book progresses, they produce many other games, some more popular and some less so. But the real story underlying the plot line is the relationship among the three, and later others who enter the cast.

The principle story centers around Sam, a physically handicapped and emotionally restricted young man, in love with Sadie but unable to express his feelings, and Sadie, his best friend, who midway through the book falls in love with Marx. As a consequence, the working arrangement that has produced such grand success becomes awkward and difficult. When Sadie finds herself pregnant and Marx is removed from the group somewhat melodramatically but also believably, the company they run falls apart. The games have been strongly in support of various forms of gender identity, and have therefore attracted equally strong reactions, both positive and negative, from their audiences. The results are sadly not uncommon in the world of today.

At this point the plot itself devolves into a video game with parallels to the lives of the three, a sort of love letter from Sam to Sadie. In addition, Sam, at his grandfather’s deathbed, is finally able to say, “I love you.” It is a pivotal moment in his life, an epiphany of sorts. At the same time, and after several years of icy distance between them, Sadie decides to resolve the issue. She flies across the country on short notice to attend the grandfather’s funeral, where of course she and Sam encounter one another. They begin to rebuild their relationship as friends and colleagues. At the end of the book they seem to be tentatively reunited in something resembling their earlier relationship and perhaps also in the gaming business, realizing that a loving friendship may be more powerful and more important than a sexual one.

It is startling to realize that a few years ago Zevin also wrote The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, a wonderful novel totally different from this one. When so many talented writers have an early success, there is a tendency to repeat that success with a sort of formulaic repetition of what has previously been a best seller. We certainly can’t blame Zevin for that!

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