On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice's life isn't terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn't exactly the one she expected. She's happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But something is missing. Her father, the single parent who raised her, is ailing and out of reach. How did they get here so fast? Did she take too much for granted along the way? When Alice wakes up the next morning somehow back in 1996, it isn't her 16-year-old body that is the biggest shock, or the possibility of romance with her adolescent crush, it's her dad: the vital, charming, 49-year-old version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, is there anything that she should do differently this time around? What would she change, given the chance?
... delightful ... Straub is wise enough to know that despite having ample time, it’s never enough ... Implicitly, then, Straub’s This Time Tomorrow is telling us there’s a more important lesson we actually need to learn, and that is how to let go. Live life well, and then let it go, our own and the lives of our loved ones — and that’s the best we can do.
Even if the premise of This Time Tomorrow is a flight from realism, the scope of Alice’s concerns is human-scale and plausible ... The novel is shot through with aching Our Town celebrations of the mundane, but its most explicit affiliations are with genre and pop culture. In a few instances, familiar character types, or narrative tropes — a dopey boyfriend who feels pressured to propose, a wise and comforting psychic — show up like old friends in a creased photo, two-dimensional but worth holding onto ... Even as it rifles through references, This Time Tomorrow insists on its own originality ... For anyone who lived in New York in 1996, the book provides sweet snippets of lost memories and associations...But its most complex and specific evocations are reserved for the relationship between an amiable, if slightly checked-out, single father and his city-kid daughter, a girl expected to be the solid one in the relationship.
Straub is not so much concerned with time travel mechanics, the butterfly effect, or killing baby Hitler (or whatever the 1990s equivalent of that moral test would be). Straub is concerned with love – its different forms and expressions, how it evolves over time, and how we can be better at giving and accepting it.