Blog Tour + Review – If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come by Jen St. Jude

Hello everyone,

At long last, this is my first blog tour of the year. A lot of the time when I receive news of an upcoming tour I choose to prioritise my existing TBR unless the book can seriously catch my attention straight away and make me fully commit to reading it – and that was the case with If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come by Jen St. Jude.

It just looked like the kind of book I could so easily get on board with, and I always love to see diverse representation. Even better, this is from a diverse author who could relate to several of the topics it explores. Looking back now, it is a decision I am glad I made.

Thank you very much as ever to Dave @ The Write Reads for being at the wheel and allowing me the space on this tour, the author/publisher for organising a free electronic copy, and finally to Noly for the resplendent tour banner.

Pages: 413
Published: 9th May 2023
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Content warnings: Suicide theme, sexual content, homophobia, drug references

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 live: 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.

This is a book written with an enormous depth of feeling, and that translates into something which leaves no shortage of impact. Deep and introspective throughout, it uses an apocalyptic premise to confront some extremely sensitive topics in a most thoughtful way that turns a story that begins with desperation into one of empowerment.

It is told over two timelines; firstly the present day after news breaks of the incoming asteroid and the countdown to impact, and also one that goes back into the past and follows Avery’s relationship with Cass up until she decides to end her life. Although there are times where the pacing could be quicker, this structure generally works very well and along the way there are countless emotional moments.

The plot starts off quite frantic as a result of the scramble for Avery to leave Eaton College and bring her friends and family together, but soon settles down into its largely character-driven narrative. From there, the central themes surrounding Avery’s mental health and understanding her romantic feelings for Cass permeate through nearly every sentence, and are conveyed wonderfully through her first person perspective. Indeed, with everything that is good about this story, the author hits it out of the park.

The representation, for one thing, is stellar. Avery is a relatively easy character to get on board with. In her mind she has reach the point of no return and while many of the thoughts in her mind are hard-hitting, there are things that a lot of readers will identify with. I did not always like Cass quite as much because sometimes she seemed a bit selfish, but her strength of personality really makes her authentic. However, the character I am most grateful for is Aisha – she resonated with me.

There was one quote from Aisha that honestly almost made me burst into tears, when she was talking about the similarities between her and Avery:

“I’m guarded. You’re guarded. We are people pleasers and perfectionists, and it is a bad combination. We like to score, but we pass the ball more. We dedicate our lives to other people. I’ve spent mine looking for my sister.” She shook her head and shrugged. “She never looked for me.”

It is passages like that which give this book its spark. There is also another hugely meaningful moment between Avery and Dr. Talley, whose role in the story may seem strange at first before everything falls into place and makes sense. All of that, I was totally gripped by. In contrast, the storylines about Clayton and the efforts of Avery’s eternal optimist parents to survive the asteroid were rather less interesting.

Overall, there is something for every reader to take away from this remarkably powerful story. It provides both happiness and sadness with Avery’s moving narrative, and never shies away from anything. Because of the pacing, I was not immersed every step of the way, but it certainly left its mark on me.

Lambda Literary Fellow Jen St. Jude (she/they) grew up in New Hampshire apple orchards and now lives in Chicago with her wife and dog. She has served as an editor for Chicago Review of Books, Just Femme & Dandy, and Arcturus Magazine. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her cheering on the Chicago Sky and Red Stars. If Tomorrow Doesn’t Come is her first novel.

* Taken from Goodreads.

A memorable read and even though I was not in love with every aspect of it, the heights it occasionally hits with its characters and themes are extraordinary.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐.5

*I was given a free electronic copy in exchange for an honest review.

Remember to check out the other posts in the blog tour!


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