Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Books I've Read: If Tomorrow Doesn't Come


This book was sad.  It was sad at the beginning and it was sad at the end.  But it didn't feel dour or overwrought.  It was kind of perfect for the subject matter.

At the start of the book Avery is about to kill herself.  She's depressed and has been for some time.  Darkness has been following her for years and she just can't see a way out other than to end it all.  Then her best friend calls.  The girl she's been secretly (and not so secretly) in love with for years. Cass tells her that scientists have discovered an asteroid hurtling toward earth.  The planet has nine days left until impact.  And Cass wants to be with Avery in that time.

The last time Cass and Avery spoke, they fought, so the knowledge that Cass still wants to see her is enough to spur Avery into action.  And not the action she left her dorm room to fulfil.  With panic rising everywhere, Avery, her roommate and her least favourite professor hit the road to try and get to the people they love.  

Once in the city, it becomes apparent that traveling anywhere far is not going to be possible.  Avery's roommate is not going to be able to get home to Nigeria.  The professor is probably not going to make it to Louisiana.  But by some miracle, Cass does manage to get back from New York, so in a stolen car, the group head to New Hampshire and Avery's family home.

With a finite time left to live, Avery fights to make it through these final days with the people she cares about.  But as time grows shorter, secrets come out and Avery finds that she not only has the strength to save the people she loves, she also has the strength to save herself.

This book depicts depression in a very real way.  That sense of hopelessness and dread permeates every page.  Yet the book doesn't feel too heavy.  I mean, it is heavy.  It's about the end of the world.  But Avery's depression doesn't drag the book down.  There are moments hope, sparks of light, and it is these things that keep people waking up day after day.  Even in a world days away from destruction.

Avery's family are a key part of this story and the clash between their values and Avery's go a long way to understanding Avery's fears and self doubt.  They have secrets and fears of their own, but have tried desperately to keep them from their children, to allow their kids to grow up without these shadows hanging over them.  

I'd recommend this one.  It's not a cheery number, but it's well written and opens the doors for some tough conversations about mental health, queer identity and more.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

We Are Okay meets They Both Die at the End in this YA debut about queer first love and mental health at the end of the world-and the importance of saving yourself, no matter what tomorrow may hold.

Avery Byrne has secrets. She's queer; she's in love with her best friend, Cass; and she's suffering from undiagnosed clinical depression. But on the morning Avery plans to jump into the river near her college campus, the world discovers there are only nine days left to an asteroid is headed for Earth, and no one can stop it.

Trying to spare her family and Cass additional pain, Avery does her best to make it through just nine more days. As time runs out and secrets slowly come to light, Avery would do anything to save the ones she loves. But most importantly, she learns to save herself. Speak her truth. Seek the support she needs. Find hope again in the tomorrows she has left.

If Tomorrow Doesn't Come is a celebration of queer love, a gripping speculative narrative, and an urgent, conversation-starting book about depression, mental health, and shame.

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