Review of Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Solomon offers a sweet, romantic young adult story with emotions that feel authentic; the book showcases competition, honesty, youthful exploration, and valuable self-discovery.
It's the last day of high school, and senior nemeses Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have battled bitterly for every title, position, honor, and moment of recognition during their high school careers. They wake up texting each other their usual taunts and challenges. But today will be different: they'll find out which of them has earned the title of class valedictorian.
For the unfortunate one, the only hope of regaining glory would be to win the elaborate seniors' game of Howl, a challenging scavenger hunt competition that spans the city of Seattle and can last all day and night. If it seems like Neil and Rowan are teamed up for the game, it's only because they each intend to use their teammate to get into a winning position--and then take them down.
But spending time working together for once allows both Rowan and Neil to notice aspects of the other that aren't so infuriating and off-putting after all. They begin to realize that maybe while they've been sniping at each other, they've been perfectly matched all along. The scenes in which they circuitously learn intimate details about each other's families, pasts, traditions, fears, failures, and dreams--while racing all over Seattle on a timeline--are wonderfully poignant and lovely and also often realistically clumsy and confusing.
I was immediately invested enough in Rowan's general competitiveness with Neil that I was disappointed to learn that Rowan had almost always consistently been the second-place finisher--I wanted things to feel as though they'd been more evenly matched between them. And Rowan's repeated wallowing regret through much of the story made me so sad for her--I was glad when she took charge and started to change her story to be one of honestly shared feelings and joy.
Solomon's young adult novel feels authentically set in high school, yet offers appeal for anyone who loves reading about the angst (and also the fulfillment) of youthful exploration, realization, and self-discovery. The small moments here rang true and were sometimes realistically emotionally fraught without being melodramatic. I loved that Rowan and Neil are considering who they are and who they want to be, and that their intense experiences during the story's short window of time offer them opportunities to shift and change.
Today Tonight Tomorrow is a sweet, ultimately romantic story that celebrates many of the essential teenage touchstones: academic achievement and competition; cultivating and appreciating meaningful friendships; facing and expressing even challenging feelings; and appreciating the wonderfully precious, fleeting moments that make up each day in a life.
Any Bossy thoughts on this book?
Solomon says in her Author's Note that this book began primarily as a love letter to Seattle. I could see this in the many fantastic details she includes of the city and its rhythm.