I like to think I am a person who keeps up with book news, what’s hot and what’s not. As such, I had heard the buzz about Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. The accolades were abundant, but when I read the book jacket notes, I was not intrigued. The main characters in the book are video game designers. (If you are over 50, did you groan just now? That was my reaction.) Playing video games is a pursuit or profession definitely outside my scope of knowledge and interest. However, continuing to hear praise for the book, and seeing a copy on sale, I decided to give it a try. It was the right choice. It is a wonderful read. In the future, I won’t be so quick to “judge a book by its cover”.
Sam and Sadie meet as teenagers, in a hospital teen lounge, playing video games. Sam is a patient and Sadie is visiting a relative. Years later, as university students in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they rekindle their friendship and begin their journey as game designers. For the record, this isn’t a car racing or shoot ‘em up game, it is a thoughtful intricate game, the kind serious gamers seek out and make famous. They are joined in their business by Marx, Sam’s roommate, friend, and guardian angel. The success of the game they create changes their lives and cements their relationship forever. This is a love story of friends, not lovers. It is a beautiful exploration of how the love between friends can be deep and lifelong.
Sam is disabled as a result of a foot injury as a child, and gaming is his way of participating in the world in a way he cannot physically. For Sadie, gaming represents a chance to break social norms and a passion not traditional for girls or women at the time. (Even today, game development and gaming is a male-dominated field.) Marx becomes the glue that holds everything together, the business, the friendships, their lives. Over the thirty-year span of the book, we follow the ebb and flow of these three lives, experience the small triumphs and personal tragedies, as they grow together and apart and together again. Zevin has created beautifully real, flawed, honest characters that successfully carry the story.
What Zevin has also done is tell this story set in the world of video gaming that is as accurate to actual gamers as it is to those of us who have never picked up a controller. She calls herself “a lifelong gamer” but she is also a best-selling, critically acclaimed novelist. I found the development of the relationship between Sam, Sadie, and Marx so intriguing that it kept me up late turning pages. Zevin has received great praise for creating a story detailed in gaming knowledge and experience and equally compelling and thought-provoking to others.
The title is taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5. “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.” In experiencing real life and real death, Sam and Sadie experience the strength of their friendship and the comfort found in the worlds they have created.