Gabrielle Zevin’s “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is an exquisitely written story about two individuals who love each other but never become lovers. It’s not your typical romance about a couple who meets, falls in love, and then lives happily ever after; instead, it’s about two people who get each other better than anyone else ever has yet, and are unable to commit to a romantic relationship. It might not be a love story, but it’s a story about love. Published on July 5, 2022, this book is the tenth novel of Gabrielle Zevin, bestselling author of “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry,” and is nominated for The Goodreads Choice Awards 2022 for best fiction. It quickly became a New York Times best-seller, with other achievements like USA Today best-seller, Sunday Times best-seller and a #1 National Indie best-seller. The story follows three friends, Sam, Sadie, and Marx, as they journey through their lives playing, designing, and producing video games. Despite all of their fame, success, and joy, tragedy and loss were constant companions throughout their lives. The play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare served as inspiration for the title of the book, and Gabrielle alludes to Shakespeare several times during the story. One of the most heartbreaking and riveting moments in all of the Shakespearean tragedies is when Macbeth recites the soliloquy “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” after Lady Macbeth has died. However, here the author alludes to immortality, eternal rebirth, and unending redemption. The idea is that there is no such thing as ultimate “game over” or “death” in a virtual setting. If you were knocked out of the game, you could always start over from where you left off.
Sam Masur meets Sadie Green in a hospital, where they bond over their shared interest in playing video games. Sam was recovering from a car accident, and Sadie used to visit her sister, who was suffering from cancer. The car crash rendered Sam permanently disabled, and the only solace he could find was in video games where he could fight, run, and walk effortlessly. He also felt a sense of alienation his entire life because he was half Asian and disabled, and the only way he could be free was to get lost in the virtual world of video games. Sam and Sadie’s lives became intricately entwined across all dimensions after they discovered a shared passion for video games in the hospital. Sam enrolled at Harvard to pursue a degree in mathematics, while Sadie enrolled at MIT to pursue a degree in computer science. Destiny brings Sam and Sadie back together at the train station, where she presents him with a game she created, Solution, and asks for his thoughts on it. The solution was a huge hit with Sam and his roommate and buddy Marx Watanabe, and it also reignited Sam’s passion for video games. This prompted Sam to convince Sadie to take a semester off so that they could work on a new video game together. After several months of brainstorming and searching for ideas, Sam and Sadie began working on their adventure game, which they named Ichigo, about a boy who gets separated from his family and must overcome numerous challenges in order to return home. The game was sponsored by Marx, who also went on to become the CEO of their game production company, Unfair Games. Ichigo was a smashing success, making Sam and Sadie known globally. As Sam and Sadie navigated through their lives designing and creating challenging, commercially successful games, they loved each other, cared for each other, and fought with each other, but never became anything more than friends. Even when Sam and Sadie knew that their love for each other was true and eternal, they never crossed their boundaries as friends and colleagues. As Sadie tells Sam, at one of the moments in the story, having a lover is a common thing; what is rare is having a true collaborator. And even though Sam longed for Sadie at various moments in his life, there was never an appropriate time in their lives when he could ask her to give them a chance. Towards the end, he accepts the fact that what they have is something deeper and purer than what they had with their respective partners.
The author brilliantly captures the dissonance between the actual world and the game’s virtual setting. The plot is compelling enough that even readers who aren’t gamers will love reading it. Gabrielle does a wonderful job describing and enacting Sam and Sadie’s game of “Pioneers” in one of the chapters. This beautifully demonstrated how much Sam cared about and understood Sadie. Through her many characters, the author also touched on subjects like racism and sexual discrimination. All the characters were well developed across the course of the story, and each of their stories creates an impact on the reader. Being a novel revolving around video games, there are several references to classic historical games like Mario Bros. and Oregon Trail. The book is also being made into a feature film by Paramount Pictures and Temple Hill, who won the rights to the book for $2 million. So, if you are looking for a lighthearted read mixed with love, friendship, and video games, do give “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” a read.