**I received an ARC from Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**
Book: Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Release Date: July 28, 2020
My Rating: 4.25 stars
Rep: Jewish-Mexican-American protagonist, ownvoices Jewish-American main character/love interest, bisexual side character, lesbian Cambodian-American side character
Summary: 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.
We’ve compared test scores and GPAs and clashed on everything from school projects to gym-class pull-up contests. We can’t seem to stop trying to one-up each other…until now.
After graduation this weekend, I’ll never have to see him again.
After reading the summary, I was really excited to read this book! I mean, the whole scavenger hunt-assassin game sounded cool but also the fact that this takes place at the end of high school…I knew that I would like it and I was right. Today Tonight Tomorrow tells a story of realizations: rivals realizing that maybe they have more in common than they thought and Rowan realizing that maybe life after high school won’t be so bad after all.
The plot follows Rowan on the last day of high school; her school’s tradition on the last day includes a game of Howl, which a mash-up of a a scavenger hunt, where they have to run around Seattle to solve a list of clues, and assassin, where they have people they have to target and take out of the game. Rowan splits from her friends and ends up teaming up with her rival, Neil, whom she’s hated since freshman year. They’ve competed for the top spot for years, but some reason she can’t bare to see him out of the game yet. It was intense and fun to follow them as they avoid people with drastic measures and solve clues. They also get to know each other more over the course of the night.
The game and Rowan and Neil’s competitiveness definitely brought out my own competitiveness from high school. All that talk about grades made my “I need to get the highest grade” instinct peak. The reminiscing over high school also made me emotional even though I graduated a couple of years ago. It made me remember my own night of graduation where you feel like you’re on the cusp of a new chapter of your life. I liked that Rowan doesn’t want to let go just yet and wants to stay in high school for a little longer because it’s comfortable. You’ve spent four years in one place with the same people and now you’re all dispersing. It’s bittersweet, and this book really captures that.
Rowan also finds a list of things her fourteen-year-old self wanted her to accomplish, but over the course of the book with Neil’s help, she realizes that she’s changed and it doesn’t matter that she didn’t get to do those things because her priorities have changed. She’s not the same person she was four years ago; nobody is! This also shows the difference between the expectation of being a teenager and actually being a teenager, which I feel like few books capture well.
I don’t know how to explain to him that the longer I stay in the game, the longer I remain in high school, the longer I don’t have to face the reality that I didn’t turn into the person my fourteen-year-old self wanted to be . . . I’m not ready for the world beyond Westview yet.
The only thing I didn’t understand is why a high school would announce their valedictorian on the very last day of school. Is this how all your high schools worked??? That is not how mine did and it does not make sense to me!!
Anyways I really liked how sex-positive this book was! Rowan loves romance novels and wants to write them. However, everyone in her life, her best friends, her ex-boyfriends, even her parents, make fun of them, so she reads them in secret and doesn’t let anyone know how much she enjoys them. Over the course of the book, though, she realizes that this isn’t something she has to hide, just because other people find it embarrassing.
Solomon also brings up the point that romance novels can be a means of escape for women because they provide a more equalized setting for women in a society that sexualizes them yet tells them that they shouldn’t want sex. It was a really great message, especially in a young adult novel, because teenage girls will get to read this and know that reading and liking romance novels isn’t a bad thing or just a guilty pleasure.
I also loved the romance; rivals to lovers is my jam, and I love how Rowan and Neil’s rivalry was really just a thinly veiled and obvious obsession with each other. Their relationship felt really natural as they get to know each other over the course of the book. Also, Neil isn’t super masculine and is really sweet and understanding!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and how it portrayed the bittersweet feeling of leaving high school. With laugh-out-loud dialogue, a thrilling plot, and great characters that feel like real people, you’ll want to be there with Rowan and Neil as they play a competitive game against the backdrop of Seattle. Pick this one up if you like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and/or Morgan Matson!
About the Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon writes, tap dances, and collects lipstick in Seattle, Washington. Once she helped set a Guinness World Record for the most natural redheads in one place. She’s the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, a Sydney Taylor Honor Book, Indies Introduce title, and Kids’ Indie Next Top 10 Pick, Our Year of Maybe, and Today Tonight Tomorrow (July 14, 2020), all from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. Her debut adult romantic comedy, The Ex Talk, will be published by Berkley/PRH in spring 2021.
Her short story “Aftershocks” appears in the anthology It’s a Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish Stories.