A single choice can change everything.
Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications, and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.
Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.
Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.
For what she let happen.
With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when she and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?
Wow, this book was an emotional rollercoaster. I feel like I really underestimated this book going off the synopsis alone because I was not ready for what this book took me through. I think in the grande scheme if things, this book broke my heart and I haven’t really had a book break my heart in this way in a while. See, this is why I never used to read contemporary because of all the possible heartbreak. I’ve seen on Goodreads how some people aren’t really fans of Armentrout’s contemporary but I think because I started with her contemporary work that I already know what to expect. I feel like she gave me exactly what I expected from her writing and her intentions and I loved it.
Just because of what went on in this book, I don’t think I can properly review it without revealing any spoilers so a SPOILER ALERT is now in effect.
- As always with Armentrout’s writing, I was in love with it from the start. I thought that the characters were likeable, the plot was intense and super emotional, and the pacing was on point. I think what I liked was how the first third of the story was spent establishing who the characters were and how much they all meant to each other because those bonds became so important because of later events. I liked how we saw how Lena’s life at home was and we could see the difference of relationships between her mother and father. I liked seeing how important her friendship was with her girls and how much they all meant to each other. I liked seeing her routine of volleyball practice and going to work. And finally, I loved the importance of her relationship with Sebastian. Obviously this was going to be the core relationship of the book and I feel like Armentrout gave them a lot of backstory and everything between them felt right, albeit a little angsty at times but everyone loves some angst. All of these things about Lena’s life are key factors after the accident and I don’t think this book would have the same affect if we didn’t know all of these things. I think it was really important for Armentrout to spend so much time introducing these characters and establishing who they are so you, the reader, can really get to know them; I think she did a great job.
- I love that Armentrout decided to make the focus of this book about survivor’s guilt. I know in her NA series Wait For You (which I love) the female protagonists in the first two books dealt with being rape and abuse survivors but there was never any kind of guilt involved. Well, that’s not entirely true because Avery felt guilty for what her coming forward did to her family but it wasn’t the same kind of guilt or magnitude that Lena went through. With Lena, her guilt was more or less two fold: 1) she had guilt that she survived a car accident while her friends didn’t and 2) she had guilt that the accident was her fault because she didn’t stop it when she could’ve. I think this was a really important topic to explore because I’m sure it’s something that happens all the time. Every time a drinking and driving accident happens there’s always that question of “could it have been prevented?” and all the things that could’ve been done differently. Lena knows that the answer to almost all of these kinds of questions is yes but it’s important for her to know and understand that it’s not solely her fault, and that’s what this book really tries to do here, in my opinion. I think she’s right to say she’s partially to blame, but everyone had a choice that night. They all had a choice to go to the party, to drink at the party, to get in the car and for the driver, Cody, to actually drive. There are so many choices that come into play with these kinds of events that no single person is ever to blame and I think that’s what is meant to be learned with the topic of survivor’s guilt. And what also comes with survivor’s guilt is the idea of how it’s not fair for you to move on and be happy when your friends are dead. I’m sure this is something that goes through so many people’s minds and I like that this was explored. I think it’s when you understand the number of choices that come into play and how it doesn’t all fall on your shoulders that you learn that it’s ok to move on. There are so many things involved in survivor’s guilt that I never knew before this book. I like that this is what Armentrout decided to do with this story and I really like how she handled it.
- While the majority of this book was about Lena and the accident, there was the small “subplot” regarding her relationship with Sebastian and I loved that it was a best friends to lovers trope. You all know how I’m such a sucker for that trope and I loved this one so much. I liked that Lena had been in love with him forever and I loved how you later learn that Sebastian felt the same way; it was so cute. While I wasn’t entirely a fan of how Sebastian freaked out over Lena’s small kiss and called it a mistake, his explanation made up for it. I think with Sebastian he knew when Lena needed him to be a friend after the accident and when she didn’t, when she needed more, and I really respect that about him. I thought their relationship was really well done and it was cute as hell in the end.
- I know I said that the main focus of this book was about survivor’s guilt, but I also really liked the whole uncertainty of tomorrow and questioning that. After the accident, the idea of tomorrow means something different to everyone. For Lena, it’s kind of the idea that she doesn’t deserve a tomorrow anymore. For Sebastian, it’s that tomorrow is never guaranteed so it’s important to live every day to the fullest. I know that sounds really cliche, as does the idea of tomorrow in general, but I still like the different sides and messages that were explored. We’ve becomes pretty comfortable with the idea that tomorrow will always be there for us, but what if it’s not? What if a choice you make doesn’t lead to tomorrow? I think it’s something to really think about and I like that this is the namesake for the book.
- I don’t think this is a true bad point because it didn’t bother me but it might bother other people. While I didn’t like that Lena pushed almost all of her friends away after the accident I understood why she did it. I knew that it was her survivor’s guilt telling her that she didn’t deserve to have her life back to normal and have her friends in her life, let alone Sebastian in her life, and she didn’t deserve happiness. I knew she didn’t want to tell them the truth of what happened because she was afraid of how they would react. I understood why Lena did everything she did and why she acted that way so I’m not mad at her but I know that some people would be upset over this so to be fair, I’m listing this here.
- Because I’m petty and I can’t let things go, it pissed me off that Lena read SJM books, especially that series and she liked that character. I could’ve done without that.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- While this is not the heaviest read I’ve encountered, it’s still an incredibly sad one that could potentially break your heart in the process. However, it’s also a great thought provoking read that really makes you question the idea of choice and tomorrow as well as highlighting and exploring survivor’s guilt in a really great way. I love what you did with this story Jennifer L. Armentrout, thank you.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: If There’s No Tomorrow
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Pages: 376 (Hardcover)
Until next time,
What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!