Book Review: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow


Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (T3) is a novel by Gabrielle Zevin.

I really enjoyed this book, ripping through it on my flight and subsequent jetlagged morning as I move back from London to the West Coast. Spoilers ahead.

Many people I know have read and enjoyed this book in the past months. Zevin mentions some influences in her author’s note at the end, and summarizes that the book is about Work and it is about Love, and that struck me as a good summary.

Some related media that I thought about when reading:

  • AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire - Sadie was Cameron pretty much 1:1, Sam was less-innocent Tom, and Marx was non-sociopathic Joe. Or Marx + Dov = Joe.
  • Masters of Doom - mentioned by Zevin as an influence and the two Johns called out by name, in many ways T3 is the love story version of the real story of making DOOM.
  • The Bear - I watched both seasons of The Bear in 3 days last week while sick, and the relation I saw to T3 is the way that unhealthy, stressed, or suffering people who are inextricably linked due to passions, circumstances, or family can just absolutely tear the crap out of each other, say the meanest and most destructive things possible, and still have a relationship afterwards. This just doesn’t exist for most people IME - friendships are mostly a one or two strike policy, hard to acquire, easy to drift apart, usually passively although sometimes driven by perceived slights orders of magnitude less hurtful than those found in The Bear and T3.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - loneliness and connection, the pain of loss and just pain itself. Both T3 and this movie cover these beautifully.
  • Ready Player One - duh.
  • Norwegian Wood - Murakami absolutely throws down in this novel. Do not read if depressed. The effects of death and loss ring deep.
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and sequel - I think most enjoyers of T3 would love these books too.

Zevin’s book is far from derivative, but it evoked so many references to other art and media that has touched my life, both directly and indirectly, the above list being only a subset of them all. It was so special that way.

I loved that Metal Gear Solid came up, and I thought “God I hated that game” and then immediately they talked about how it was based around stealth and it could be pretty slow and boring - bingo.

I loved that Super Mario Bros was referenced often, and I could think back to lying in a hammock in Gimli as a kid, trying to minimize Game Boy sun glare while playing my clear-cased cartridge of that game for hours.

I have gotten a small sample of chronic pain in the last few years, no where close to Sam’s, but I could empathise with Sam while being increasingly grateful for my own largely healthy condition.

Jews were everywhere in this book, both the main characters were part Jewish AND the two worst most dislikable characters were full Jewish. I didn’t love reading about Dov and George. Dov, a smelly, hairy, overconfident, argumentative, abusive, selfish and somehow also conscientious genius. George, a materialistic and absent joke of a father. On the one hand, I think there is probably a certain type of Jewish character you get overexposed to in Ivy League settings, from what I can glean from my friends, partner, and this book. I don’t know those Jews, and growing up my Jewish community was extremely different and much more likable than them. On the other hand, I saw some of what I fear most of having been and/or being in these characters in an uncomfortably relatable way. Sam and Sadie’s bluntness with each other was also very Jewish IMO - I just don’t talk to my non-Jewish friends the way I do with my best Jewish ones.

People weave these narratives about themselves and others and they grow and evolve, for years. But people also do change. Sam embraced saying I love you. Sadie became a teacher. They broke and forgave each other over and over. We are driven by pettyness and insecurity as much as we are driven by aspirations for beauty and clarity.

I love the idea that “you can’t be old and still be wrong about so many things”. I am wrong about many things, and so I must still be young :).