If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come
Jen St. Jude
Published May 9, 2023
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If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come
WE ARE OKAY meets THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END in this YA debut about queer first love and mental health at the end of the world-and the importance of saving yourself, no matter what tomorrow may hold.
Avery Byrne has secrets. She’s queer; she’s in love with her best friend, Cass; and she’s suffering from undiagnosed clinical depression. But on the morning Avery plans to jump into the river near her college campus, the world discovers there are only nine days left to an asteroid is headed for Earth, and no one can stop it.
Trying to spare her family and Cass additional pain, Avery does her best to make it through just nine more days. As time runs out and secrets slowly come to light, Avery would do anything to save the ones she loves. But most importantly, she learns to save herself. Speak her truth. Seek the support she needs. Find hope again in the tomorrows she has left.
IF TOMORROW DOESN’T COME is a celebration of queer love, a gripping speculative narrative, and an urgent, conversation-starting book about depression, mental health, and shame.
One of the things I’m learning about the way I manage reviews is that it doesn’t allow me to be a mood reader as often as I’d like. Lots of times, I don’t think it matters, because I have pretty broad interests. Books like this, though, which touch on deeply painful issues like depression and, you know, the literal end of the world, would probably be better suited to a mood read experience.
That said, I liked a lot of things about this book even with its heavy topics. Much of the story is told in two timelines, which gives us a chance to see Avery’s backstory play out in real time. We get to experience her plunge into depression and loneliness. We are with her as she realizes she’s in love with her best friend. Getting to experience those moments with her firsthand means that as we zip back to the present, a scant few days before an asteroid will destroy life on earth, the relationships with her family and with her best friend Cass feel fraught and raw, as if those other memories just happened. I thought that was a smart way to tell the story and give the relationships and history a centerstage feeling without letting the whole end-of-the-world element upstage everything.
Avery’s brother and his family? His wife and their three year old son? OMG. They absolutely wrecked me. I mean, completely demolished. I loved them even though thinking about parenting a small child in a moment like that is heartbreaking and terrifying.
On the whole? I think in concept, this book reminds me a little bit of THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers because that’s also about a girl who is suicidal and faced with the potential end of the world, in this case a zombie apocalypse. The emotional depth of the story really moved me, and the relationships between characters and moments showing the beauty of life and humanity made this a lovely read.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Avery has undiagnosed clinical depression and is suicidal. She’s also in love with a girl. Cass is a lesbian and biracial. She’s Mexican American and Indian American. A minor character is a Muslim.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.
Kissing between two girls. Sex between two girls.
Avery is raised Catholic. She prays and volunteers with the church and has a pretty deep guilt complex over things. She’s been raised to believe that being gay is a sin. A priest tells her this and also that suicide is the greatest sin. (Super yuck.) She later tells the priest this is harmful and not to do this to anyone else. A family member also publicly affirms her in front of the church.
In the opening scene, Avery is on the brink of killing herself. There are rumors of shootings, riots, and other violence once news spreads of the asteroid heading toward earth. Two men with guns tie up a couple and steal their stuff. A man with a gun and another man threaten and chase two girls.
Teens drink alcohol. References to smoking pot.
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