Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review!
What’s new, everyone? Over a year after my review for Rachel Lynn Solomon’s fake-dating and enemies-to-lovers contemporary romance The Ex Talk, she’s now releasing the YA (although it really should be categorized as New Adult/NA) time-loop contemporary romance See You Yesterday. It kicks off with college freshman Barrett Bloom waking up in her dorm room at the University of Washington on September 21st. This is her first day, and she’s hoping this period of her life is when she’ll be able to transform herself for the better and put all the bullying and humiliation she endured in high school behind her. So of course she finds out her roommate is Lucie Lamont, the former editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper and her friend-turned-nemesis who participated in said bullying and humiliation. The rest of the day’s events, including Barrett fouling up her interview for the college paper and then inadvertently setting a fraternity on fire, do a great job at dampening her spirits even further. The cherry on top? She realizes the next morning that she’s actually reliving the same day all over again. Oh, and then she eventually learns Miles Kasher-Okamoto, a bookish and curt student from her Physics 101 class, is trapped in the time-loop with her.
**Trigger Warning** Readers, please beware this book’s depiction of bullying, sexual harassment, anxiety attacks, mental health, body shaming, and drug abuse.
Essentially the answer to the question “What if Palm Springs, but in college?”, See You Yesterday (the cover and naming convention of which seem to be heavily inspired by those of Today Tonight Tomorrow, another one of Solomon’s YA/NA reads) has now taken a new spot in my Favorite Time-Loop Stories list. It contains all the undeniable charm, spontaneous chaos, and fleshed-out character evolution you want out of a tale that sees its leads repeating the same day over and over until they finally figure out how to break the cycle. Barrett is a particularly endearing protagonist as she grapples with the trauma that came from all the jerks who ostracized and taunted her in high school, slowly befriends Miles to the point that they could potentially become something more, and ruminates over the new ways in which she’s able to view relationships with people in her life thanks to the ephemeral variety of interactions that occur in this time-loop.
Lucie is one example of someone with whom Barrett shares numerous moments—moments that incrementally build up and have a poignant impact on Barrett despite whichever version of Lucie is with her being unable to recall those events. Miles deals with similarly complicated issues in his own life, making him compelling to follow as well. Together, Barrett and Miles end up creating a compassionate bond full of growth, vulnerability, and healing. This does wonders for mental health rep, which Solomon’s work sensitively handles (if you want more of that, check out her newest adult-aimed contemporary romance Weather Girl). Her witty prose and the wry banter she pens between Barrett and Miles is another trademark of hers that I’m glad to witness in this book.
An element of See You Yesterday that does bother me, however, is Miles falling into the Sexually Inexperienced Asian Man stereotype. Solomon already used this for Dominic Yun in The Ex Talk, and I was willing to brush it off back then. But now she’s reusing it here, which is completely unnecessary. It’s strange, because she typically gives so much thought to the representation, e.g. writing Barrett as a Jewish and plus-size lead, then writing Miles as Jewish through his father’s side, therefore subverting the stereotype of Judaism being passed down through matrilineal descent. That’s what makes it even more disappointing to see both Miles and Dominic get boxed up in the same racist trope. Hopefully, Solomon will be able to break out of this stereotyping the next time she depicts an Asian guy.
As for the science-fiction, it works for me pretty much from start to finish. The story begins solidly enough, then drops some time-loop mechanics as it progresses—one of them being an especially interesting rule that I don’t think I’ve come across in other time-loop tales. While the middle of the plot slows down a bit, the mechanics keep me engaged and get across the point of the lightly sci-fi premise without becoming tedious or befuddling.
Overall, See You Yesterday has plenty for time-loop fans to find pleasure in with its heartfelt core, its pair of lovable leads whose relationship is packed with substance, and its mostly nuanced inclusivity. Make sure you check it out once it’s published on May 17th.
Until next time, stay healthy and stay strong!
Windup score: 85/100