A Lifetime of Endless, Immaculate Tomorrows: Gabrielle Zevin’s New Novel is a Magnificent Ode to Creativity

“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” might be the best book of 2022 so far

Angela Lashbrook

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All art is a testament to immortality, created in some way by an artist’s desire to be remembered, to leave a mark long after their death. Even performance art, by its nature ephemeral, lives on through documentation and a viewer’s memory.

Video games may be immortality’s most unambiguous fans. If you die in a game, most of the time you can return, albeit without the strength you accumulated over the course of your previous life. It’s this virtue of video games that unites the protagonists of Gabrielle Zevin’s absolutely stunning novel, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.

Sadie Green and Sam Masur first meet in a hospital when they’re children, where Sam is receiving extensive treatment after a horrific car accident, while Sadie visits her sister, Alice, who has childhood leukemia. Both Sadie and Sam are, from an early age, acquainted with the looming specter of mortality. The pair unite over hundreds of hours — 609 hours, to be exact — spent playing Super Mario Bros, but after a miscommunication causes a rift between them, Sam and Sadie won’t connect again until they’re in college in Boston. With the help of Sam’s kind, wealthy roommate Marx Watanabe, the two will go on to become internationally acclaimed video game designers, though over the course of their decades-long friendship, the duo — in truth, with the addition of Marx, a trio — will experience love, fame, misunderstandings, betrayal, and violence. Death will hover throughout, bringing the three together, compelling them to fame and fortune, and eventually, threatening to tear them apart.

Though at least a passing knowledge of video games is helpful to understanding the many references throughout the book, it’s not necessary. Sam, Sadie, and Marx are so compassionately rendered, their fumbling love for each other so heartbreakingly real, that all the reader needs is a gentle patience, as with a beloved friend who insists on remaining in a relationship that isn’t doing them any favors. Are Sam and Sadie and Marx good for each other? What makes a relationship destiny, anyway? Is the…

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Angela Lashbrook

I’m a columnist for OneZero, where I write about the intersection of health & tech. Also seen at Elemental, The Atlantic, VICE, and Vox. Brooklyn, NY.