Matt’s Weekly Reads, August 13, 2022


This Time Tomorrow, Emma Straub (2022)

On the cusp of turning forty, Alice’s life is good enough but filled with regrets about following the path of least resistance in life — not getting her dad to quit smoking, not telling her highschool crush how she felt, and staying at the entry-level job she got out of university instead of moving on to bigger and better things. But when she wakes up on the big day, she finds herself back on her sixteenth birthday, with the opportunity to do life differently. What can she change? What shouldn’t she change?

This is far from a new premise, with similar alternate reality ideas being explored in books like Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter and Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library (among others), television shows like CBC’s Being Erica and movies like Sliding Doors. (The last of these has given the trope its common name.) Exploring well-worn ideas isn’t a bad thing as far as I’m concerned, provided that it contributes something or uses the trope to explore something beyond its boundaries. And so, as much as this book is about regret and the roads not taken, what I appreciated most about it is how it deals with themes of grief and loss — lost youth and potential, lost urban landscapes, and lost loved ones. For those who haven’t explored ideas of personal agency, regret, and ‘scope of control’, whether through the fiction mentioned above or through non-fiction resources in the psychology, coaching, and spirituality genres, I think this book could be very thought-provoking and perhaps even helpful. But for me, I mostly just appreciated the characters, the relationships, and the wonderful New-York-slice-of-life of it all.

Read this if you’re interested in:

  • Alternate realities
  • Time travel
  • Regret
  • Grief and loss
  • Midlife changes
  • New York City
  • Urban change

My Rating, 8.5/10

Weekly Roundup

  • Swing It Sunny, Jennifer L. Holm (2017), 7.5/10: This is a touching sequel to Sunny Side Up, dealing with the aftermath of Sunny’s brother being sent away to military school. Great 1970s content too! (Family drama, substance abuse, the 1970s, graphic novels, friendship)
  • Me Sexy, Drew Hayden Taylor (2012), 8.5/10: As with any collection of essays, this one was pretty hit-or-miss, depending on one’s interests. The uniting theme in the collection is cultural understandings and misunderstandings of Indigenous sexuality. It’s an under-examined topic, and so I found it fascinating and thought-provoking and on the whole I would recommend it to anyone who would like a greater appreciation for how Indigenous people conceive of their own sexual lives, whether using or pushing back against dominant Western conceptualizations. Taylor has also edited similar compilations exploring Indigenous humour and creativity, and I look forward to checking them out as well. (Indigeneity, Own Voices, Sexuality, Anthropology, Essays)
  • The Battle for Skandia, John Flanagan (2008), 7/10: Continuing with the Ranger’s Apprentice series, this fourth installment sees our heroes stuck in Skandia as an invading army approaches, needing to choose between allying with their people’s long-time enemies or trying to escape for home. This episode had a lot of action, which would work for a lot of people, but didn’t hold my attention as much. (Fantasy, Middle Grade, Adventure, Teenagers Doing War, Teenagers Doing Diplomacy)
  • Summer in the City of Roses, Michelle Ruiz Keil (2021), 7.5/10: This is an ambitious book: a magical realistic, unabashedly queer and neuro-atypical reimagining of the legend of Iphigenia and Orestes set in 1990s Portland. (Yes, you read that right.) So it’s not surprising it doesn’t quite live up to its ambition at times. But, I loved the dynamic between Iph and Orr, the wonderful riot-girl-90s setting, and the careful way the author told a story about neuro-atypical and gender-noncomforming individuals that felt real to the conversations happening today without sacrificing the authenticity of the 30-year-old setting. (Fantasy, YA, Magical Realism, Retelling, Greek Mythology, 1990s, Portlandia, Family Drama)
  • The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Jessica Townsend (2017), 8/10: This was a cute first book in a middle grade adventure series, Nevermoor. Morrigan Crow has spent her childhood believing she is cursed, blamed for everything from crop failures to sunken cakes. When she is recruited to try out for a secretive and exclusive society, there is far more at stake for her than simply getting into a good school — her very life is at risk if she doesn’t make it. (Coming of Age, Adventure, Middle Grade, Magic, Secret Societies)
  • Neon Gods, Katee Robert (2021), 6.5/10: It’s safe to say that this just wasn’t for me. When I heard that this was a ‘dark’ retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth, I thought ‘well duh, it’s the Persephone myth; of course it’s dark’; I should have clued in that what this meant was a Dark Romance retelling of the myth — a term reserved for romance stories involving gangsters, organized crime, and other violent subcultures. What I liked: The reimagining of Olympus as a modern city ruled by competing oligarchs; it was both interesting and realistic for that realm. What I didn’t like: The writing was a bit stunted for my tastes and the Dark Romance aspects of it were just not for me. (Retelling, Greek Mythology, Dark Romance, BDSM)

3 responses to “Matt’s Weekly Reads, August 13, 2022”

  1. […] Canadian author came to my attention as the author of one of the essays in Me Sexy (reviewed here). When I saw that he had a memoir, I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about his life. This […]


  2. […] This is a great collection of essays from Indigenous writers about Indigenous humour (see my August 13 post for my review of his similar collection on Indigenous sexuality). I thought most of the essays in […]


  3. […] in between the events of The Battle for Skandia and The Sorcerer of the North, this story follows our wonderful band of heroes and heroines into a […]


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