Traveling through time to save the life of a loved one
Our public library has a section right by the front door called “Lucky Day Books.” These are books that are very popular and for which the waitlist is long. However, if the book is on this special shelf, and you happen to see it, it can be yours immediately! Such was the case for me with This Time Tomorrow. However, I liked it so much that I want to state this: Even if you have to wait six months to get this book from your library, the day you get it will indeed be your lucky day!
This is a book of time travel, and time travel is not usually my thing. But oh my, it is also a father/daughter love story and that is a topic for which I wish there were an entire genre. I LOVED my dad and would LOVE to read more about other people’s experience with such a relationship.
As the book opens, Alice is at the hospital bedside of her beloved father, Leonard “Lenny” Stern. The doctors don’t really know what is wrong with him, but his body is “falling apart in a great, unified chorus: his heart, his kidneys, his liver.” The doctors and Alice are waiting for him to die, but don’t know if it will be days, weeks, or months.
Lenny raised Alice on his own for most of her life. He supported them on the mega-royalties from a book he wrote when she was a child. It was called Time Brothers, about two time-traveling brothers. The book sold millions of copies and went on to be a serialized television program. As an author, Lenny was a one hit wonder.
Another key player in this novel is Alice’s best friend and lifelong gal-pal, Sam, who is also very close with Lenny.
Sam sets things in motion when she meets Alice for Alice’s 40th birthday and brings her a gift, a photograph of them at Alice’s 16th birthday party, and the tiara Alice wore to the event. Lenny was not home the night of the long-ago party thus things got out of control. A pivotal event in Alice’s life takes place that night.
All these memories send Alice into an emotional funk. After Sam goes home to tend to her kids, Alice gets drunk. She takes herself home to Lenny’s house instead of her own because it is closer. Once there, she passes out – outside the door – before she even goes in. When she wakes up, she is in her childhood bed, she is just turning 16, THE PARTY is soon-to-happen, and of course, a youthful Lenny is alive and well.
Ultimately, Alice figures out how to go back and forth in time. When she goes back to the past, she always lands at the dawn of her 16th birthday. Coming back to the present, it is always the eve of her 40th. It’s not long before she tries to change things in the past to help save Lenny’s life in the present. Whether she is 16 or 40, she always tells Sam what’s going on and Sam might not quite believe her, but always supports her.
Sam explains things this way: “It’s trippy. But okay. Either I believe you again or I believe that you have ongoing psychosis, which is sort of the same thing, if you think about it. You believe this is happening to you, and I believe that you believe it.”
I found Alice to be a very fortunate character. She had a great friend in Sam! She had a wonderful relationship with her dad! At one point, Alice described why she felt so close to Lenny this way: “I don’t know…many people I really, really love, who really, really love me, you know what I mean? I know that sounds pathetic, but it’s true.”
I didn’t find that pathetic. I found it true, at least in my life. That’s how I felt about my dad. That’s why I loved this book.
Oh, by the way, in her acknowledgment at the end of the book, Emma Straub says the book was written as a gift to her father. Googling him, I see that he is the prolific writer, Peter Straub. Therefore, as an added layer to this novel, we know the author has real life experience being the daughter of a famous author…