My dear bookish friends!
I stayed up until 3 am last night because I just HAD to finish this book, and it’s one that made me so emotional and cry so much. It just touched me so much! A huge thank you to TheWriteReads, the author, and Penguin for my ecopy of the book and my spot on the tour (none of which influenced my rating in any way).
Also, can we please talk about this gorgeous cover for a second? I love it! And I loved working with it on the tour banner! Definitely one of my favourites to work on so far!
If you want to get lost in a book that will touch you to the core, please check out my full review below!
This book contains many aspects of mental illness (including suicidal thoughts). If any of this is triggering for you, please check out the TWs online first before reading on. Thank you.
About the Book
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.
What would you do if you were alone when you got the news that the world will end in nine days? That’s what happens to Avery. However, she isn’t out on the lake near her college campus alone by accident, no. Avery plans to end her life there when her best friend, crush, and most important person in her life, Cass, calls her to inform her about the asteroid that is headed for Earth, and they only have nine days left to live. The shocking news makes Avery reconsider her plan, and together with her college roommate, Literature professor, and Cass they make the chaotic, scary journey back to Avery’s home.
Flights have been cancelled, the cities utter chaos, homes being raided – the apocalyptic atmosphere was palpable, and the way the author managed to show us how Avery’s mind tried to withstand her depressed thoughts during a time where it was under so much pressure was really impressive. However, her thoughts and worries were never weakened by the bigger plot.
I really liked Avery. She has many secrets, and overall seems to be a very troubled and rather unhappy person, which made me very sad.
I’d always been a little broken, but at least before Eaton I’d fooled people into thinking I was talented, sparkling, and smart. Now, I felt like I wasn’t even a person at all. I didn’t want anything. I hoped for nothing. No one needed me. The sadness had spread from my brain to my bones. It lived in my body. I didn’t think it would ever go away. How could it?
From the very beginning, the sadness, hopelessness and despair in her was almost tangible. Her aunt Devin had ended her life the day she was born, and it seems like Avery didn’t only inherit her aunt’s looks, but also her all-encompassing sadness. Fear has weaved itself throughout Avery’s whole life – fear of not being enough, not being good enough, not being right the way she is. That also includes the feelings she’s had for her best friend Cass for so many years now.
I didn’t want to go to Hell. I tried to be someone worthy of saving: by getting good grades, training hard for soccer, and praying even harder.
It was sad to read about Avery’s fears; that she thought her parents only loved her when she got the best grades, when she was the best at sports, prayed the most, and didn’t feel for her best friend what she thought she wasn’t allowed to feel. The way she had come to make her plan to end her life that day showed how desperate she must have been. But then, with the news of the nearing asteroid, Avery wants to keep going. For her loved ones – always for the others, making it through the next day and the next.
I love the way Avery’s family is depicted. Even though we often see them – I don’t want to say ‘tainted’ as she loves them very much – through Avery’s sad eyes, we do see their strong bond and the love that is keeping them all together. It was so sad to see how Avery has tried to keep her distance from her little nephew (the cutest little boy with so many burning questions, he is so full of life – the perfect antidote to the apocalyptic atmosphere) all his life because she didn’t want him to miss her when she was gone.
The author did an excellent job balancing both Avery’s internal conflicts and the impending doom that is impecting all of the characters in the book. Even though the impending apocalyptic event could potentially overshadow Avery’s own personal horror brought about by her clinical depression, the author worked with her mental illness so carefully, so respectfully, that none of Avery’s fears or worries were ever belittled, even while the literal world was ending.
Without God, who was I? Why were we here? What did this life mean, if we weren’t trying to earn the afterlife? Without Hell or Heaven, where did that leave me?
As you can see, I was quite touched by Avery’s character. It might have to do because I have been working with similar books about mentally ill characters for my doctoral thesis for a while now, and Avery will now make a special appearance in it for sure.
But the rest of the cast of characters are just as noteworthy. I loved Cass, Avery’s independent, strong, gay best friend, but also Avery’s brother and sister-in-law, with her blue-purply hair and love for art AND the sciences, little Teddy who was so smitten with his aunt but respectfully kept the distance she emposed on him for most of the book, and then there are the Literature professor Dr. Talley and his dog who made the book even more special because they were in it too.
In the past couple of years we all came close to feeling a sense of impending doom in the world, but seeing such an apocalyptic event through the eyes of someone whose own little world must have felt like that for all her life has truly been eye-opening. A huge thank you to author Jen St. Jude for writing this wonderful book, for being so careful with such a delicate topic around mental health, but also for including themes such as the importance of family, friendship, love and acceptance – accepting others the way they are, but also being accepting of oneself, just the way Avery comes to learn.
The ending was… well, I don’t want to spoiler but it’s both heartbreaking and bittersweet. This book made me cry so much throughout, it is really deep, touching, with hopelessness cutting very deep but it’s also hopeful at the same time.
“It’s okay to be sad,” I said. And as I said it, I believed it. It meant I was feeling something. It meant I was alive. I might never be fully, completely, totally happy, not exactly, but I kept finding things to pull me to the next day and the next, and sometimes life even felt beautiful. Sometimes I even felt something in my chest that felt like real, fluttering hope.
May is mental health awareness month, so it’s the perfect publication time for this book. I’m sure it will touch and (positively) affect the lives of many people. The importance of finding things worth living for, without weakening the mental illnesses depicted in the book, has been done so well here. If you decide to pick this book up, I am pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.
Definitely a 5-star-read for me.
Thank you all so much for reading!
P.S. If you or someone you know struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, or other mental problems, please reach out to a loved one, doctor, or counsellor. Life is worth living, and no matter how bad it may look during a bad time, it will get better. I promise.
Did I believe I could love all of who I was, including my screaming flaws, my biggest failures, and my cruel, relentless brain? I wasn’t sure, but I could choose to try. I did believe this for certain, finally: There is no one so broken they are completely unsalvageable. There is no life so hopeless tomorrow can’t be at least a little better. I did believe that.