Given all that’s going in the world today, I have been reading a lot of light-hearted romantic comedies. I mean, A LOT.
One of the best I’ve come across recently is Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon.
I was lucky enough to read this as an eARC (Thanks, Edelweiss) since it isn’t set to be published until July 2020, but I have already pre-ordered a copy for myself! It was that good!
Taking place over the last 24 hours of high school, bitter archrivals Rowan Roth and Neil McNair set aside their differences to win Howl, the annual Assassin-style scavenger hunt game that all graduating seniors get to play – to say goodbye and to possibly win $5000. Their one night together searching out the clues leading them around Seattle leads them to realize, not only are they more alike than they thought – they could have been great friends, and that they actually have real feelings for each other.
This book grabbed me from page one. First of all, Neil texts Rowan every morning to wish her a “bad” day and his contact info is stored as “McNightmare” in Rowan’s phone. This. Just, this. I knew I was going to love this book.
These characters are incredibly well thought out and complex. Rowan, whose parents are famous children’s book authors, wants to write romance novels – a hobby of hers that she is keeping quiet since readers and writers of romance novels aren’t respected. Neil, named valedictorian, is clearly, incredibly intelligent and adorably dorky. He loves Rowan’s parents books – and is completely book nerdish about it. He’s planning to pursue a career in linguistics, but he too is harboring a secret that he is scared to share with his friends. When Rowan and Neil confess their secrets to each other and accept each other, it was one of the most beautiful moments – especially given how much they have hated each other.
The major conflict in the story, other than their ever present rivalry, is the idea of leaving high school behind. That transitioning into a new phase of life can be a bit scary for kids just starting out on their own. Rowan especially struggles with this idea, in part because she is comfortable with who she is in high school and also because her ambitions and dream for her future are something she feels she needs to hide. I think these are things that teens can connect with, but more than that I felt very connected to that idea, even as an adult. Life does change. And it can be scary. There are things you can prepare for and those that just happen. I don’t blame Rowan one bit when she doesn’t want Howl to end because that would mean the end of all that she has known and the start of something new that she can’t really anticipate. How many of us have felt like that – even as adults?
I also loved that both main characters were Jewish. I can’t remember where I read it, but I recall reading that Rachel Lynn Solomon said that she would write characters that reflected who she is as a person – a Jew (Side note: Now I can’t actually even remember if it was her or another Jewish author. Regardless, in all of her published works – which I’ve read – she creates authentic Jewish characters, so even if she didn’t say it, she’s living it.). Her commitment to writing characters that are authentically Jewish is something for which, I feel, she deserves recognition. I work with a strong Jewish teen population and I am Jewish myself, and I can attest to the lack of YA books about Jewish teens today. Just going about their lives, doing their thing, but being Jewish too. Most books about Jewish teens are historical fiction dealing either with the holocaust or immigration to the United States. Today Tonight Tomorrow reflects a more modern Jewish experience. One that even I can recognize because it is closer to the Judaism that I grew up with. These are books that need to be written, published, and promoted more in mainstream YA literature. And I’m so happy that they are beginning to emerge – and there are a few I’ll be reviewing in future posts as well. (Since I’m working on a super-secret Jewish YA Book Club for my students… shhh… it’s a secret! Buuuuuut, I might be willing to share. Make a comment if you’d like to hear more about it!)
This book really has something for everyone. Love coming-of-age novels? Love enemies-to-lovers? Like puzzles? Love Seattle? (as of right now, I need to add Seattle to my must-visit list) Need something to remind you that change can be scary, but is a good thing? Do yourself a favor… pre-order this book now. It is totally worth it!
Today Tonight Tomorrow, expected release date: July 14, 2020