“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin is not just a novel but a profound exploration of themes of love and tragedy in the immersive world of video games.
The story unfolds over three decades, following Sadie Green and Samson “Sam” Masur.
Their first encounter is as poignant as it is unusual – meeting in a hospital as children, with Sadie visiting her cancer-stricken sister and Sam recovering from a devastating accident that claimed his mother’s life and left him with a broken foot. A shared love for video games sparks their friendship, a bond strong enough to break Sam’s traumatic silence.
However, a misunderstanding drives a wedge between them, leading to years of separation. Fate reunites them as adults in Boston – Sadie, a computer science major at MIT, and Sam, a student at Harvard.
Their rekindled friendship soon evolves into a creative partnership, with Sadie’s game design genius and Sam’s knack for creating puzzles and mazes.
They launch “Ichigo,” a blockbuster game, with the help of Sam’s wealthy roommate, Marx Watanabe. This marks the beginning of their company, Unfair Games. But their journey is not smooth.
Sam and Sadie’s differing backgrounds – Sadie from a privileged white, Jewish family, and Sam, part Korean with a financially strained upbringing – add layers to their dynamic. Sadie battles sexism in the tech industry, while Sam copes with his physical and emotional scars.
Despite “Ichigo”‘s success, tensions simmer.
Sadie feels overshadowed in the male-dominated gaming world, and their creative visions diverge. Sadie leans towards high-concept games, while Sam focuses on commercial viability.
Their relationship is a complex mix of deep affection and professional friction.
Tragedy strikes again when Sadie’s partner, Marx, is fatally shot in a hate crime, shattering their world. Sadie, now a mother and enveloped in grief, withdraws.
In a heartfelt gesture, Sam creates a game to reach out to her, leading to a bittersweet revelation and a temporary rift.
Yet, their bond endures. As they confront and confess their insecurities and fears, they realize the uniqueness of their connection.
The novel closes on a hopeful note, with Sadie and Sam, matured and reconciled, indulging in their shared passion for video games and contemplating a new collaborative project.
1. The Power and Complexity of Friendship
At the heart of Zevin’s novel is the nuanced exploration of friendship, particularly between Sadie and Sam.
Their relationship is a labyrinth of shared passions, mutual understanding, and unspoken tensions. The story deftly navigates the realms of deep emotional connectivity that transcends romantic love, showcasing how friendship can be equally profound and life-altering.
The book illustrates how true friendship can endure misunderstandings, long separations, and even deep-seated insecurities. Their bond, tested by time and circumstance, acts as the novel’s backbone, demonstrating the resilience and evolving nature of platonic love.
2. The Intersection of Art, Technology, and Society
Through the lens of video game development, the novel provides a vivid exploration of how art and technology intersect and influence society.
Video games, in this narrative, are not just entertainment; they are a form of art that reflects and shapes cultural and social dynamics. This theme is particularly evident in the characters’ struggles to balance artistic integrity with commercial success, and in their endeavors to use gaming as a medium to address broader societal issues.
The narrative also touches on the evolution of the gaming industry, particularly its impact on and response to societal changes, including gender dynamics and inclusivity.
3. Identity and Overcoming Adversity
The characters in the book are defined by their multifaceted identities and how they navigate the challenges these identities bring.
Sadie’s struggle against sexism in the tech industry and Sam’s journey dealing with his Korean heritage and physical disability offer insightful commentary on personal identity in the face of societal expectations and obstacles.
The novel delves into how their identities shape their perspectives and decisions, particularly in the creative process.
It’s a poignant examination of how personal adversities, whether stemming from gender, race, or physical challenges, can be both a source of struggle and a wellspring of strength and creativity.
“Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is a celebration of friendship, the art of video games, and the resilience of the human spirit, set against a backdrop of personal loss and societal challenges. Zevin’s narrative is a powerful ode to the extraordinary in the ordinary, the beauty in shared passions, and the enduring strength of human connections.