Matt’s Weekly Reads: January 14, 2023


Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin (2022)

Childhood friends Sam and Sadie bonded over their shared love for video games. When they bump into each other again years later as college students, they decide to create a game together, thus starting a prolific and successful partnership that binds them together for life, even as it eats away at their friendship. This is a stunning book about friendship and the realities of human — and therefore profoundly flawed — relationships.

This is a difficult book to describe, and an even more difficult one to describe well. There is nothing about the premise of this book that would interest me. It isn’t really all that groundbreaking in its characterizations, plots, or messages. And yet, it’s been a long time since I’ve loved and felt so deeply impacted by a book. Suspend disbelief if you need to, but please do pick this up. It is an unexpected all-time, top-tier, Hall-of-Fame book for me. (Once again, my anti-wheelhouse strikes!)

Read this if you’re interested in:

  • Friendship
  • Found Family
  • Complicated relationships
  • Grief and Loss
  • Creativity
  • Video Games

My Rating: Premise 10, Atmosphere 10, Main Character 10, Plot 10, Intrigue 10, Relationships 10, Success 10, Writing 10, Enjoyment 10, Lasting Impact 10: TOTAL 100 – I could quibble about a few things here or there in this book. I don’t actually think it’s ‘perfect’, but some times you just have to give the ‘tens tens tens across the board’ score and stand and applaud.

Weekly Roundup

  • Now Is Not the Time to Panic, Kevin Wilson (2022), 93: One magical, terrifying summer, Frankie collaborated with the troubled ‘new kid’ on a piece of art that went viral in their small Tennessee town, with tragic results. In the present day, she has built a great life for herself as an author, a wife, and a mother. But when a reporter finds out she was the one who created the art at the centre of the infamous ‘Coalfield Panic’ of 1996, Frankie has to come to terms with the past and scramble to ensure it doesn’t wreck her present and future. I really enjoyed this fascinating exploration of nostalgia, friendship, responsibility, the power of art to inspire and provoke, and the weight of secrets. (Nostalgia, Friendship, 1990s, Secrets, Art, Satanic Panic)
  • Yinka, Where is Your Huzband?, Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (2022), 89: Yinka is a successful British Nigerian woman, but all her accomplishments don’t amount to anything for her mother and aunties, who want nothing more than for Yinka to be married. When a series of unexpected setbacks cause old wounds to reopen, Yinka begins a plan to get a date for her cousin’s wedding, with surprising results. There’s a lot that I really appreciated about this novel. It threads the needle perfectly of demonstrating the possibilities of thriving in the Black diaspora while also showing the lasting impacts of colonialism and racism within that community. The reason why this is not quite a five-star read for me is that in the middle of the book, Yinka loses herself and the title could easily have been, ‘Yinka, Why Are You So Consistently Lying to Everyone You Care About?’ and I got bogged down quite a bit in that section. But overall, I really enjoyed this book. (Black Thriving, Diaspora Stories, British African Stories, London)
  • The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy, Megan Bannen (2022), 91: This enemies-to-lovers romance set in a very original fantasy world matches Mercy, who is committed to keeping her family’s undertaking business afloat against the odds, with her nemesis Hart, a marshal tasked with keeping drudges — zombie-like reanimated corpses — at bay. This was delightful and charming, with just the right dash of the cheekily macabre. I’d love to see more adventures set in this world! (Romance, Fantasy, Death, Grief and Loss)
  • Fresh Water for Flowers, Valérie Perrin (2018, transl. 2020), 84: Violette is the loving caretaker of the graveyard in her small French village. When a visitor arrives trying to figure out why his mother has insisted on being buried alongside a man who is a complete stranger to him, secrets come out and stories unravel that touch both of their lives. I enjoyed this, but it didn’t leave much of an impact on me. (Grief and Loss, Death, Romance, France)
  • Kaikeyi, Vaishnavi Patel (2022), 82: Kaikeyi is the daughter of a minor king in ancient India who becomes a powerful queen in a great kingdom before losing everything in a twist of divine fate. This is a retelling of the story of one of the Ramayana’s villains from her perspective, and I have mixed feelings about it. It’s very well done and Patel should be proud of her accomplishment in doing this so successfully. At the same time, we’ve seen so many of these feminist retellings over the past fifteen years or so that I’m finding they’re starting to lose their impact. And, the fact that her story involves her failing through her every success makes it a tough read. (India, Myths and Legends, Fate, Feminist Retellings, Family, Grief and Loss)
  • When Stars Are Scattered, Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (2020), 84: This graphic novel for a middle grade audience tells the story of author Omar Mohamed’s life in a UN refugee camp in Kenya. The best word that comes to mind to describe it is ‘honest’: life as a refugee seems impossibly hard — the displacement, the loss, the waiting, the poverty — but also beautiful in the relationships and resilience of life in the camps. Likewise, the UN is shown as being a necessary lifeline but also drowning in bureaucracy; and resettlement as the ultimate hope but also the greatest potential disappointment. (Memoir, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Refugees, Somalia)
  • Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White (1952), 90 (Reread): Wilbur the piglet may be the runt of the litter, but he makes fast friends with the other creatures on the farm, including an industrious spider with a plan to save his life. What a delight it was to revisit this childhood favorite as part of my plan this year to be more intentional about revisiting classics (and exploring ones I haven’t yet discovered for myself). This is one of the most beloved children’s novels of all time, and with good reason. (Children’s Literature, Classics, Middle Grade, Talking Animals, Farms)
  • Ramona the Pest, Beverly Cleary (1968), 87 (Reread): Ramona Quimby is a spirited kindergartner with a wonderful zest for life that sometimes gets the better of her. In this volume of the series we follow her to her first day of school, through Halloween, to the shocking events surrounding the loss of her first tooth! This was a delight; I remember hating it as a kid and finding Ramona to be nothing more than a big brat, so it was fun revisiting it as a grown up and coming to love her just a little. (Children’s Literature, Classics, First Day of School)

2 responses to “Matt’s Weekly Reads: January 14, 2023”

  1. As a classroom teacher in middle elementary schooling, it was a delight to introduce the children to Beverly Cleary.


  2. […] Where Is Your Huzband, Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (2022): I just read this last month, but thought it was well-worth highlighting again here. This is a great book dealing with the […]


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