The Book of the Summer

A Brief Introduction

It’s been a while since I’ve taken pen in hand and sat down to write. Fear not, dear reader; I have spent the time in your service.

Gabrielle Zevin has the hot book, the must-read book, the book of the summer. The reviews are breathless, the blurbs are eye-popping, and a movie is on the way.

Yikes!

Because I am a nice guy and never want to waste my reader’s time, I decided I would read all of her books in the hopes you would read my review over the 5,000 other reviews currently on the web. (I’m always looking for ways to add value.)

Her Books that I’ve Completed

#1. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a best-seller. It’s about a widowed bookseller, so of course, it takes place in a bookstore. Over the course of the book, JOY gradually returns to the bookseller’s life.

I love this book, and apparently, lots of you do as well, as it’s being made into a movie.

#2. The plot of Young Jane Young is based roughly on the Monica Lewinsky affair. (Google it.) Much like Lewinsky, our protagonist has taken power back in her life.

This is a good book and an essential book to boot. The narrator is a voice I, a White middle-class male, have rarely heard.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. (And isn’t it nice to enjoy and learn at the same time?)

#3. The Hole We’re In is timely enough that I checked the release date. They published it in 2010, but boy, oh boy, is this book still relevant today.

It’s about a religiously conservative family. (Two parents and three kids.) The story opens with the father leaving his job to return to graduate school, placing the family in financial distress. The financial pressure splinters the family in other ways.

The father is racist and a hypocrite who drives his daughter away.

We follow the family down through the years.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the turn to the right we’ve made here in America. The book never explicitly states, but I assume abortion is illegal, as one character travels to Canada to have one.

I found the book timely and engaging and would highly recommend it. This book is probably my favorite of the four.

On a side note, I worry about our empathy, and I wish we had a way to explicitly teach it in schools. (Especially in the U.S.) (Maybe books?)

For instance, I get that some of you are pro-life, but how do you tell a 10-year-old she has to have her rapist’s baby? If I’ve learned anything in my college-level years, it’s being wary of moral absolutes and those that attempt to impose them.

#4. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is a YA novel, and it’s interesting, it held my attention, and it too has a movie. The thing I liked most, though, is the protagonist has three guys she could legitimately be in a relationship with. Zevin builds tension, and we don’t find out whom the girl picks until the very end. (It’s almost a mystery book about romance.)

In the spirit of complete honesty, I am currently listening to All These Things I’ve Done. It’s a teen book, and it’s good, but I find myself getting distracted and don’t know that I’ll finish. (Besides, I have another hot author I’m itching to review.) (I’ve officially given up. I’m listening to The Final Girl Support Group. — Voted the best horror novel of 2021 by Goodreads, but also referred to as a wickedly humorous thriller. What a combination!)

The Headliner

Tomorrow And Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Be careful when you read reviews, as you certainly don’t want to spoil this book, and I guarantee it will be spoiled if you know anything that happens from the middle of the book onward.

It’s a love story, sort of, but it’s certainly not a romance, and it’s nothing that I’ve ever read before. The book jacket tells us it’s about two friends, but I would argue strenuously that it’s really about three friends. (Two males and one female.)(Yes, this matters a lot.)

The story takes place in the world of video game design. I imagine that may be a negative for some of you, but don’t let it bother you, as the setting only enhances the story. (A main character completes an incredible act of love revolving around a video game.)

So, the numbers

It’s # 7 on the NY Times hardcover fiction books, and it’s been on the list ever since it came out four weeks ago.

It’s an editor’s pick at Amazon.

It’s only #43 in the USA today, but it’s new.

How about these blurbs?

“Utterly brilliant. In this sweeping, gorgeously written novel, Gabrielle Zevin charts the beauty, tenacity, and fragility of human love and creativity. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow is one of the best books I’ve ever read.”

John Green! John Green said this! (I know exclamation points are for lazy writers, but holy buckets Batman, John Green is a great writer, all-around good guy, and hero to librarians everywhere.) (Go out and read his books right this very instant.)

“It’s the sort of book that comes around once in a decade — a magnificent feat of storytelling.”… “Gabrielle Zevin is one of our greatest living novelists, and Tomorrow just may be her magnum opus. Remarkable.

Rebecca Serle

What do I think?

I don’t recall the last time I purchased a hardcover book. I have no more room for books in the house, yet I bought this one, and it’s well worth it. (I belong to three online libraries, so I could have waited..)

It’s a Barnes and Noble book club book. I’d love to discuss the book with other people.

It is absolutely worthy of a re-read. For instance, the very last sentence of the book says, “He would know her handwriting anywhere.”

I swear that’s a reference to something that happens early in the book, but I can’t find it for the life of me. Ugghh. (I want to say this is important, but it’s probably not. I’ve spent over an hour now trying to confirm my hypothesis.)

It’s true to life; it arouses your emotions and holds your attention.

It’s deep. I found that I looked at my past relationships in a new light.

It’s well worth your time and money.

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