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Book Review: Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Today Tonight Tomorrow

Publisher’s description

The Hating Game meets Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by way of Morgan Matson in this unforgettable romantic comedy about two rival overachievers whose relationship completely transforms over the course of twenty-four hours.

Today, she hates him.

It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on test scores, student council elections, and even gym class pull-up contests. While Rowan, who secretly wants to write romance novels, is anxious about the future, she’d love to beat her infuriating nemesis one last time.

Tonight, she puts up with him.

When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left—and then they’ll destroy each other.

As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the awkward linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for the past four years. And, perhaps, this boy she claims to despise might actually be the boy of her dreams.

Tomorrow…maybe she’s already fallen for him.

Amanda’s thoughts

Sometimes it’s the books I like most that make me want to write the laziest book review. Do I have more thoughts beyond, “I absolutely adored this book, you should go get it, and I don’t want to tell you much more because it’s just such a joy to discover the story as you go in fresh”? Sure. And I’ll offer a few. But really, this book should be able to be sold with just a “trust me, you’ll love this.” And you’ll get about five pages in and see I was right.

Rowan and Neil’s combative relationship is full of taunting and competition, which means two things: one, they’re very good at bantering with each other, and two, they’re never far from one another’s minds. Flip their relationship to a romance, not a rivalry, and you might think they’re a little bit obsessed with each other. This, of course, is the thing that Rowan can’t see and is appalled at when her friends tease her about her obsession with Neil. But when she really starts to examine things, as their adventurous night running all over Seattle for a game unfolds, she is shocked to find she really does like Neil, especially as she’s finally getting to know the real him.

Going in, I figured I’d like this. I have really enjoyed Solomon’s previous two books and I am a huge fan of romances, especially enemies-to-lovers romances. But this book exceeded my expectations. Real highlights include how frankly Rowan discusses and approaches sex, the truly excellent banter, the deft handling of a large cast of secondary characters, and the completely satisfying and adorable romance. This book was a total delight.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781534440241
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 07/28/2020
Age Range: 12 – 18 Years

#MHYALit Book Review: Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss

Publisher’s description

meet me hereIn a single night—graduation night—Thomas has to decide: do what everyone has always expected of him, or forge an entirely new path? Bryan Bliss’s absorbing examination of one boy struggling with expectations and realities will appeal to readers of Sara Zarr and Chris Crutcher.

Thomas is supposed to leave for the Army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, to find each other, to find a path, and to know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

This book checks so many of the boxes of things I love in a novel: takes place in 24 hours, is a smart look at mental health, features a boy-girl friendship, has a vivid setting, and shows characters going against expectations. If you’re like, dang, that’s a lot of really specific stuff you’re into, whatever–you know you have a list of things you really enjoy the heck out of in a book. Also, I really liked the previous book by this author, No Parking at the End Times, and sorta figured going in that I’d dig this. And did I ever.

 

Thomas and Mallory have barely spoken in years. They haven’t really been friends for 7 years. But when Mallory needs a ride home, after punching her boyfriend at a party, he’s there for her. Even though he’s not really sure what she needs or why she turned to him for help, he’s there. What could have been a simple ride home—drop her off and be done—turns into an all-night adventure. It’s hard to tell if the timing couldn’t be better or couldn’t be worse. Goodness knows they both need a distraction. Thomas is supposed to leave for the Army in the  morning, though he has no intention of actually going, a secret he reveals to Mallory and to a few others as the night wears on. And Mallory? She has her own reasons for freaking out and needing to focus on something else for a few hours. It’s graduation night. They should be elated. But both Thomas and Mallory are feeling the nearly unbearable weight of expectation and uncertainty as well as the desire to go away, do the unexpected, follow their own paths.

 

And then there’s Jake. Thomas can’t stop thinking about how broken his brother is, and how terrified he is that he might come back from his time in the Army just as broken. Injured in action, his brother comes home looking physically okay, but Thomas notes, “But he was messed up worse than any of us could have ever imagined. We just didn’t see it yet.” Thomas has been watching his brother, in the months since he’s been home, and knows that dying in combat isn’t necessarily the worst thing that could happen to a soldier. It’s enough to make him think that skipping his appointment at the recruiter’s and going as far away as his meager savings will take him has got to be a better choice than actually joining the Army.

 

Outside of trespassing in an old, allegedly haunted hotel at the start of their adventurous evening together, there’s not much about Thomas and Mallory’s night that’s lighthearted. When they dig up their time capsule and find their “Book of Adventures” notebook, I thought that maybe the story would turn into them checking off items on a bucket list or completing tasks that the childhood versions of themselves considered adventures. Instead they spend much of the evening pursuing and trying to figure out/help Jake. They go to parties, parking lots, a trailer park, and a field. They slowly reveal to each other some of what’s happening in their lives. They talk about why their friendship fell apart. They’re real and honest and nothing gets solved or fixed, but it seems like maybe, just maybe, Thomas and Mallory will get to be the masters of their own fate.

 

MEET ME HERE will inspire important conversations about post-traumatic stress disorder, expectations, friendship, and toxic masculinity. On the surface it could seem like Thomas and Mallory’s friendship just fizzled out, or like Jake just isn’t himself, or like our main characters are feeling an uncertainty about their futures that might come from it being graduation night— a time for endings, beginnings, and thoughts of the future. But Bliss infuses every one of those things with much deeper issues that get explored more thoroughly as the story goes on and as secrets are revealed. This well-written and affecting book is a must-have for every collection. Teen readers may not be in exactly the same situations as Thomas or Mallory but will recognize the feelings of uncertainty and the pressures of expectations as well as appreciate the quiet thread of hope woven throughout. 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062275387

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 05/31/2016