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First Look Club: Jed reviews This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

First Look Club: Jed reviews This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub


By Emma Straub

Publication date: May 17, 2022

Reviewed by Jed Cruz

Fresh from visiting her dying father in the hospital on the day she turns 40, Alice Stern gets sloshed, goes to sleep, and wakes up as her 16-year-old self in the 1990s.

This really is everything that anyone needs to know about this book.

Time travel stories seem to fall into one of two major varieties: the kind about personal growth and self-discovery, and the kind that toys with unraveling the entire space-time continuum. This Time Tomorrow really is more of the former than the latter.

Alice, who has asked herself “what if?” all her life, takes this opportunity as a way to experiment and to right certain wrongs that she thinks she might have committed in her youth. More importantly, she sees her situation as a chance to save her father from whatever ailment has placed him in a state of near-death in the present.

Things do change as Alice gains more control over her means of time-hopping. Every trip back sends her to the exact same time and place in the past – Groundhog Day with a twist of Quantum Leap, except Alice is basically just leaping into a different her every time she goes to sleep in the past and returns to the present. She begins to repeatedly overwrite herself with versions of her who now suddenly exist because of something different that she did back in her teens. It becomes an experiment for her to see the result of whether or not she chooses to have sex with her teenage crush, or whether or not she tells her best friend about her newfound ability. It becomes a challenge for her to figure out exactly what’s killing her father: uncontrolled smoking, zero exercise, too much Coke, or all of the above?

And how much can a person take when given unlimited tries to try to arrange and rearrange the pieces of a puzzle so that they fall in just the right way? Alice struggles with questions of who she is and what she wants as she goes on what ultimately becomes the aforementioned story about personal growth and self-discovery. While the story thankfully never suddenly drops a space-time continuum-devouring bomb in the novel’s closing moments, it does take the reader on several surprising twists and turns before everything resolves in a satisfying way.

This Time Tomorrow is already an easy recommendation for its interesting plot and effortlessly engaging prose. The characters in Alice’s world make it even better: her father Leonard, a novelist who wrote one wildly successful book (about time traveling kids!) and has coasted ever since; her best friend Sam, an unflappable and reliable force of sensibility and support in any timeline; and the mysterious Ursula, the Stern family cat who seems to exist outside of the boundaries of time travel and parallel universes. They are lightly sketched out, but bring a lot of soul to the story.

This time travel story is light on the science but heavy with heart. Regardless of whether the central premise is something you’re particularly into or not, you should give this a read. Highly recommended!

Jed is one of the co-founders of Popsicle Games, a game development studio based in the Philippines. He has worked as an animator, web designer, and college instructor, but he continues to dream of writing for a living. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @jrevita.

[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]

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