Past Present Future

  • Review
By – June 4, 2024

Past Present Future, the sequel to Rachel Lynn Solomon’s first young adult nov­el, Today Tonight Tomor­row, picks up where Rowan and Neil’s rela­tion­ship left off. After a whirl­wind day of work­ing togeth­er on the scav­enger hunt that will mark the end of their time in high school, Rowan and Neil — who have been each other’s biggest com­peti­tor for years — share their feel­ings for one anoth­er. Now, as they head off to col­lege in dif­fer­ent cities, nei­ther of them knows what tests will await them.

While Rowan pur­sues her stud­ies in Boston in hopes of one day becom­ing a romance writer, Neil moves to New York City think­ing he has his whole col­lege plan mapped out. Past Present Future presents itself less as a romance and more as a dual com­ing-of-age sto­ry. Both char­ac­ters end up fac­ing the grow­ing pains of liv­ing on their own for the first time, no longer being the smartest in the room, and nav­i­gat­ing past trau­ma. They have only a few chances to see each oth­er, and find­ing time to con­nect on the phone becomes hard­er and hard­er. As a result, Rowan and Neil learn to fight not just for them­selves but for each other.

Solomon con­tin­ues her trend of writ­ing mature young adult nov­els that have an increased focus on sex­u­al­i­ty and diver­si­ty. She also brings men­tal health to the fore­front, par­tic­u­lar­ly when Neil con­fronts his father’s reemer­gence in his life. The nov­el explores the ways in which Jew­ish life on cam­pus allows Jew­ish stu­dents to find com­mu­ni­ty in a daunt­ing­ly large place. Solomon con­tin­ues to nor­mal­ize top­ics that are often treat­ed as taboo — top­ics that are nec­es­sary for nav­i­gat­ing life in a healthy way.

Whether read­ers are in high school, col­lege, or ful­ly out in the world, they will find it easy to con­nect with the chal­lenges Rowan and Neil face in Past Present Future.

Eliz­a­beth Slot­nick works in the tech­nol­o­gy space but has a grow­ing pres­ence on book­sta­gram, where she reviews books span­ning across all gen­res. She grad­u­at­ed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia and lives in Seat­tle, WA.

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