This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
Published by Riverhead Books
Publication date: May 17, 2022
Genres: Book Clubs, Fiction, Coming-of-age, Contemporary
Your Local Book Store, Amazon
I’ve had mixed success with time travel novels this summer (I’m looking at you, One Italian Summer) so I was a bit hesitant to pick up This Time Tomorrow. What swayed me is that it’s by Emma Straub, whose last novel All Adults Here was a favorite of mine. Thankfully, while I may not have loved everything about this father-daughter novel I did appreciate the relationship and how it played out against the element of time.
Alice is about to turn 40. Her life is fine, but is it her best life? Her father’s declining health and recent hospitalization has led her to question both of their lives. Her father raised her by himself after her mother took off for California when Alice was 6. His parenting style and attitude towards life was fairly hands-off and untraditional, both for Alice and for himself. He has bad habits which are at the root of his current health issues and she wonders if her aimlessness, her inability to commit or finish things the result of never having been pushed? Of never having done normal family things? And how well does she even know her affable, but somewhat removed father?
With all of this swirling around her Alice goes to bed on the eve of her birthday and awakens in her childhood bedroom. She’s 16 again—a horror I’d hate to relive, but thankfully, This Time Tomorrow is not a cringe-y rehash of the worst of high school. Instead, it’s a more balanced view:
Her vision was clear, but it was coming from two different feeds. Alice was herself, only herself, but she was both herself then and herself now. She was forty and she was sixteen.
Straddling two worlds could be precipitous or tedious, but Straub twists the plot in unexpected ways and while at first it seems like the same old ‘revisit the past and change it to make the present better’ it slowly shifts into something quite different and deeper. There’s still wish fulfillment in Alice’s choices, but Straub handles it in a way that feels real not exaggerated. In doing so, she reveals tender layers in the father-daughter relationship that resonate.
What a very long time one had to be an adult, after rushing through childhood and adolescence.
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Thank you for your thoughtful review. So far I haven’t picked up this book. I liked the book she wrote last year too. Thanks to your review I may give this book a try when the wait list at the library shortens.
I liked it almost as much as All Adults Here. I feel as if she keeps growing as an author which is nice to see.
I’m so happy you liked this one, too. I loved the father/daughter relationship.
I wasn’t sure at first and thought the time travel was going to be gimmicky, but it went past that in the best way.
Linda McMichael says
Catherine, thanks to you I’m halfway through Elektra after beginning it two nights ago. I save bedtime for novel reading, and I went to bed an hour early last night. Elektra isn’t on our book club list for July-January (we don’t meet in December), but you betcha I’ll suggest it for the next go-round.
I tried and tried to like our July book club book, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, but it was a litany of facts in a narrative form that bored my bad-ass off, even though the author, Joshua Hammer, is a writer for Smithsonian. I expected a thriller, and perhaps the later pages are thrilling, but I decided not to waste my time reading any more of it. The book club presenter for this book is a university professor, however, and she might have a different opinion. My great-aunt was a bad-ass librarian herself, so I came to the book with high hopes.
I hope you continue to enjoy it!
I’ve heard of that book and have it on my TBR, but think I’ll remove it. I don’t do well with nonfiction that’s too dry.
Love this! I had such a good time with this one, too.
It caught me off-guard. I thought Straub was veering into old territory of changing the future, but she chose something so much more tender.
Yeah I read this one. I thought the author handled the time travel well … but toward the end my head started to spin a bit. Going back to 16 would be cringe-worthy.
Agreed on 16, which is why I wasn’t sure it would work at all, but I feel as if she handled it well. Not too much focus on high school. And yes, the time travel got confusing, but I appreciated how it all tied into the theme.