Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
If There’s No Tomorrow is an important story for young people to read, actually it’s pretty important for all of us. This is a young adult novel but a story that should appeal to readers of many ages. It’s a contemporary tale with elements of romance, friends to lovers and family drama but it also sends an important message about how easily things can change.
Jennifer L. Armentrout is an author I had not read before, she has quite a fan following and writes across genres though I hadn’t heard of her. In If There’s No Tomorrow she tackles an important subject, one that we all need to be aware of. Yes there are other books out there tackling the same subject matter but I think that’s always going to be the case. I quite enjoyed her approach for this one.
The blurb gives very little information about the story so I find myself sitting here stuck… there is so much to this story and so many points to make but very little in the blurb so I first need to work out where my spoilery line in the sand is.
The back of the book is quite ambiguous, leaving you with a wealth of possibilities for what’s to happen within the pages. How many single decisions are there that can change the entire life path of a girl about to embark on her senior year? Yup, there’s an awful lot.
Lena Wise is preparing for her senior year, working as a waitress, hoping for a college scholarship and looking forward to spending as much time with her friends as possible. She is a sensible girl who loves to read and has always tried to make the right decisions. She lives at home with her mum, her older sister is away at college and her parents divorced years ago.
Let me first focus on Lena, she’s our protagonist and she’s a perfectly relatable and realistic teen; especially to me with the voracity of her reading. Yes, she’s perfectly realistic and relatable but that doesn’t mean she isn’t also ridiculously annoying at times, but as an adult looking back… what teen isn’t. She is focused on her studies and what she wants to do with her life after high school. She shares a lot with her close friends but she is also quite a closed book who prefers to avoid dealing with things when it gets too tough.
Lena has more than a little crush and she thought she’d been doing a great job of hiding it from all of those closest to her, turns out that she’s not as good at hiding stuff as she thought. She spends a lot of time obsessing and a lot of time trapped inside her head over-thinking every conversation hoping to see something that hasn’t been there in all of the years they have been friends.
There is a snippet of prologue to add suspense and leave you wondering about the big decision but not enough information to really grasp at what it could be. The book is then split into Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow as time frames rather than actual days.
I finished the book a couple of days ago and life has made it a little difficult to actually sit and formulate coherent thought about it. Thinking about it now and one of the things that sets this apart from a lot of the YA I have been reading is that we have only one protagonist, only one perspective.
If There’s No Tomorrow is all Lena, part of that is because she is very wrapped up in her own head early on and then later she is so consumed by what is going on with her that she loses sight of those around her, and the fact that she isn’t the only one suffering.
Character development is hard to define because Lena is extremely well developed, her best friend and neighbour Sebastian is explored with reasonable depth but the rest of Lena’s friends are only superficially sketched; part of that is their smaller role in the narrative but it would have been nice to understand them a little better.
I enjoyed If There’s No Tomorrow, I found myself invested in the story and the characters and though I found it hard to come to terms with some of the parental behaviour (now that I am the parent of a teenager) it was also behaviour that was not unheard of and not completely uncommon.
Armentrout writes of a life altering event from a perspective that we don’t always see; exploring themes of friendship, guilt and loss on the heartbreaking journey to moving on. There is actually a lot I want to say about this but without giving away major plot points it’s very difficult. None of the events here are ground-breakingly original and I’m sure we have all been in similar situations at some point; what made this stand out for me is the way it was approached, the way the fallout was managed and the effect on relationships as well as on people.