Barrett Bloom is hoping college will be a fresh start after a messy high school experience. But when school begins on September 21st, everything goes wrong. She’s humiliated by the know-it-all in her physics class, she botches her interview for the college paper, and at a party that night, she accidentally sets a frat on fire. She panics and flees, and when she realizes her roommate locked her out of their dorm, she falls asleep in the common room.
The next morning, Barrett’s perplexed to find herself back in her dorm room bed, no longer smelling of ashes and crushed dreams. It’s September 21st. Again. And after a confrontation with Miles, the guy from Physics 101, she learns she’s not alone—he’s been trapped for months.
When her attempts to fix her timeline fail, she agrees to work with Miles to find a way out. Soon they’re exploring the mysterious underbelly of the university and going on wild, romantic adventures. As they start falling for each other, they face the universe’s biggest unanswered question yet: what happens to their relationship if they finally make it to tomorrow?
Groundhog Day in print format, hmm? I was intrigued by the synopsis from the start and I can pleasantly say See You Yesterday gave a sweet story that brought growth to both protagonists as they faced the same day over and over…and over again.
Barrett is by far from the perfect protagonist. We know from the start that things go super awry on her first day of classes after orientation. She gets into it with another student in a class she’s not sure she wanted to take and is trapped with the girl who dropped her as a friend ages ago as a roommate. But no one wants perfection, especially in their protagonist, and I appreciated the candor Barrett brings as the POV we see everything through. She suffered through a number of different ordeals in high school at the mercy and words of her peers, and college life was her hope for recreating herself with a brand new slate.
Repeating the same horrid day seems bad enough, but learning nothing she did differently made any difference (so you’re telling me trying to a better person the second time around doesn’t work as a magic spell to finally make it Thursday, September 22?). But what kept the repeated days from getting super tedious and repetitive was the antics Barrett encounters with Miles, a guy she instantly hit a sour note with in physics class who apparently is also stuck. I liked their interactions and banters, from the heated I-can-barely-stand-you-why-are-you-the-only-person-in-the-world-who-is-stuck-in-this-time-loop-with-me arguments to the softening, vulnerable conversations, because they felt genuine and real for two barely-started freshmen trying to find themselves and possible reinvent everything they were running away from. It would kind of suck if you didn’t like them because, sorry, we’re stuck with them. Everyone else is kind of like an amnesiac who will forget everything that happened the next time the day resets.
While I initially pegged this as a fun rom-com kind of book, it definitely has its space for serious conversations about the people they were and the ones they were hoping to become. I did really enjoy that and thought it made the story more interesting to read than perhaps only the silly things one could do without any consequences when the day just resets sometime during the night. The chemistry between Barrett and Miles was also there although I wouldn’t say it was always heavy on the romantic part for me like some other romance novels can make me feel. I suppose it wasn’t the focus because they were also getting to know one another as individuals, seeing each other in ways that maybe no one else had ever been privy to before underneath the walls and armor they showed the world. The romance is still there, don’t get me wrong, but it felt more like a contemporary story at times than romance as a genre.
If you’re looking for a fun story about young people stuck in a time loop – and oh boy, does the physics of it kind of come into play A LOT more than I anticipated? – then this is your book. If you’re looking for some more serious-toned story where the protagonist(s) really self reflects and dives deep into who they want to become through the experiences that have shaped them, this is also for you. I think there are different layers for a wider audience to enjoy, but the caveat is it’s not one specific thing that caters to one group more if that’s solely what you want it to be. I think it’s part of its beauty and I’m glad I picked up one of Rachel’s YA novels.
See You Yesterday definitely brought the fun as Barrett and Miles race to figure out how to escape the time loop they’re stuck repeating over and over again with only one another as company. Read part as a rom-com with the forced proximity trope really tugging these two characters together and part as a contemporary novel focusing on heavier themes such as bullying, this book wasn’t what I expected but had plenty of heart to love.