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.Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
July 28th, 2020
I have to admit something. I’m a sucker for a good romance in a Young Adult novel. Something that feels genuine, that feels honest, and something that feels right. I would never admit it aloud or in workshops, but the easiest way to get me invested in characters is for them to have crushes. There’s something very charming to me to see young love in action. Now, that being said, it is not easy to write young love. Often, young love feels forced or gross; or even worse, forcibly gross. In Today Tonight Tomorrow, Rachel Lynn Solomon has managed to avoid all of those issues.
Rowan Roth and Neil McNair instantly have one of those relationships you want to see work out. Not only do they instantly feel like friends you could have had in high school, but they also are a pair you want to root for. Rowan, or R2 as Neil calls her, is well-educated, perfectly rounded, and yet flawed in ways that make her both realistic as well as idealistic in a romance story. Neil McNair is a perfect balance of frustrating yet sweet that allows hims to walk the very fine line of coming off charming as opposed to cocky. Combine that with a fun concept of a scavenger hunt over Seattle and you have a lovely story ready to be told. Sure, I hate Seattle because of sports reasons, but Rachel Lynn Solomon makes the city seem almost worth visiting, almost.
While, yes, having a pair of lovable characters is important in a romance. Shocker, I know. There’s something important that Rachel Lynn Solomon does in Today Tonight Tomorrow that I think is even more important. As I’ve said on the podcast, particularly while discussing Testimony From Your Perfect Girl by Kaui Hart Hemmings, I love when sex and attraction is done right.
Now, what does that mean?
No, I do not mean I want incredibly erotic scenes.
What I want is realistic and honest scenes. Scenes and stories that show how love, romance, and sex should be. One of my favorite books of all time is The Midnights by Sarah Nicole Smetena because the sex in that book is realistic to how teenagers have sex. In Today Tonight Tomorrow, Rachel Lynn Solomon has Rowan and Neil talk about relationships and sex. They discuss how unfair it is that “good girls” are expected by society to be virgins or prudish. They ask each other “is this okay?” and “how far do we want to go tonight?” and better than that, they learn how to listen to each other. This book might get you to start reading because of the romance, but it will keep you reading because of the subtle and not-so-subtle ways it attacks a patriarchal system designed to shame girls for enjoying sex.
Like I said, it’s easy to get me hooked to a book when it has a couple that seem genuine and true. The relationship between Rowan and Neil is honestly near perfect from a storytelling perspective. Rachel Lynn Solomon uses the smallest of vignettes to flashback to the rivalry that Rowan and Neil have had over their high school years to be the best in the grade. Sure, it is exposition, but they are so short and well placed that they feel actually important as opposed to probably necessary. Likewise, the story feels like its a romantic movie with it’s pacing and persistence. No point in the book does it feel like you’re being dragged through an inevitable happily ever after because you learn about both characters as the story progresses. Thus, not only do you learn more and more about this cute couple (that isn’t a couple for most of the book) but you get to see their rivalry turn to friendship turn to love. Thus, it feels like the type of love story that would actually happen.
As if the cute love story isn’t enough to get readers hooked, Rowan’s secondary goals are equally as likely to get me to fall in love with a book. Rowan Roth wants to be a writer, well, not just any writer, but a romance novelist. She feels ashamed because of that and yet it’s what she wants to do. The story of her coming to terms with this dream is so well done. As a person who strives to be a writer, it is instantly easy to relate to her. Especially since she is not only educated as heck about her genre, but she is willing to stand up for it. Much like wanting to be a young adult novelist, Rowan knows there is certain people that will criticize that goal. Sure, writing a review on a blog designated for young adult novels is not the audience that will judge a dream like writing young adult novels, but plenty of people do. Rowan knows that people will judge her for her dream and yet, eventually, she faces the fear of that judgement. That is a lesson that never gets old and is wonderful to see in a book that also tackles sex talks and normalizes them. Frankly, this book has it all.
Overall, I would say this book is a fun read and quick. It’s perfect for summertime or any time. It’s a love story that doesn’t bog you down in cliches of romance novels and will probably make you respect romance novels even more. It’s lighthearted while also dealing with some serious topics, but all-in-all remains cheery and warm. There weren’t any moments in the book that made me cry or get too emotional, but I enjoyed every page of it. If you want to get away from the crazy world and madness going on, this book will certainly help you feel that warmth from your crushes. It is definitely worth a happy read.
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This week we had the quintessential Spring writing chat: what to do about our writing spaces and where to take them. Writing spaces have shrunk during the pandemic and many coffee houses still aren’t offering in person seating. How do we writers get away and respark our motivation when we don’t have the space to stretch our creative muscles? The answer: writing retreats. But are retreats worth it? That and more on this week’s episode.
Maureen Johnson is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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