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Is This Tomorrow: A Novel Paperback – May 7, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616200545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616200541
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Leavitt has a way of crafting the loveliest novels out of tragedy. Like its predecessor, Pictures of You (2011), her latest work, set mainly in the 1950s, turns on a single fateful incident: the disappearance of 12-year-old Jimmy Rearson. Though Leavitt eventually reveals what happened to Jimmy, in a closure that provides little in the way of solace, it’s her examination of loss, grief, and disappointment that will engross readers. Lewis, Jimmy’s best friend, is already an angry loner, a child of divorce in a time and place where his mother, Ava, is viewed as a challenge to the natural order. Without Jimmy as a tether, he drifts aimlessly into adulthood. Rose, Jimmy’s sister, is paralyzed by survivor’s guilt: to move on without her brother feels tantamount to betrayal. The aching loneliness of these two is palpable. But Leavitt’s most captivating creation is the mercurial Ava, an accidental trailblazer who refuses to deny her dreams. It is Ava, ultimately, who points the way forward, showing there’s no shame in putting ghosts to rest. --Patty Wetli

Review

"From the lockstep '50s into the do-your-own-thing '60s, Caroline Leavitt follows her cast of lonely characters as they grapple with the sorrowful mystery of a missing child. 'Are any of our children safe?' one asks, and of course the answer is no, no one is. Like Mona Simpson's Off Keck Road, Is This Tomorrow is an intimate meditation on time, loss and destiny."
Stewart O'Nan, author of Emily, Alone and The Odds


"Heart-wrenching..sympathetic. This tale of domestic suspense builds to a shocking climax and will appeal to anyone immersed in suburban lore." Library Journal


"When a 12-year-old boy disappears from his suburban Boston neighborhood, ripples spread. The mystery is set up early, so there is plenty of time to get involved and invested in characters you care about, or are distrustful of, or ones whose motives you question. The overwhelming arc of the story is for these characters you come to feel protective of to get beyond the tragedy. How can you get to tomorrow when time is forever stuck on one tragic day? You want them to find their tomorrows. And thanks to great writing, I was pulling for them all the way."Candace Purdom, Anderson's Bookshop

"In the spirit of Richard Yates' novel Revolutionary Road, Caroline Leavitt peels back the neat façade of suburban life in the 1950s to uncover the ways in which the demands of conformity leave a trail of loneliness and pain for those who lie outside its bounds. Blending taut suspense with deeply moving portrayals of fierce parental love, childhood friendships and first crushes, Leavitt has created a novel with haunting characters and much to say about how we move through tragedy. "Libby Cowles, Maria's Bookshop

Leavitt has a way of crafting the loveliest novels out of tragedy. Like its predecessor, Pictures of You (2011), her latest work, set mainly in the 1950s, turns on a single fateful incident: the disappearance of 12-year-old Jimmy Rearson. It's her examination of loss, grief, and disappointment that will engross readers.  But Leavitt's most captivating creation is the mercurial Ava, an accidental trailblazer who refuses to deny her dreams. It is Ava, ultimately, who points the way forward, showing there's no shame in putting ghosts to rest. -- Patty Wetli, Boolist

"Arresting, skillful, magical. Leavitt's wonderful narrative works as almost a parable for that complicated and uncertain era, teaching and warning her readers even as she entertains them."
Skip Horack, The San Francisco Chronicle
"An eminently satisfying read. Leavitt provides no easy answers about how we can compensate for loss, but she engages our heart."
Kathryn Lang, The Boston Globe
"Giving the book an "enthusiastic thumbs up," Wally Lamb credits Leavitt with a "Mad Men-like examination of shifting midcentury American values."
Mary Polis, MSN Entertainment Page Turner


“Riveting.” Vanity Fair


"An insightful parable about a 'complicated and uncertain era.'" --The Week 


"An arresting portrait of bygone America" --San Francisco Chronicle


“[T]aut and resonant mystery.”—Barnes & Noble Review



“Leavitt is a lovely writer and here she tells an absorbing story.”—New York Daily News

"Not only is [Leavitt] an incredibly accomplished novelist, she's also a crackerjack human being." The Huffington Post

"Leavitt has a way of crafting the loveliest novels out of tragedy ... It's her examination of loss, grief, and disappointment that will engross readers." Booklist

"This tale of domestic suspense builds to a shocking climax and will appeal to anyone immersed in suburban lore." Library Journal

(Review)

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Customer Reviews

Dragged out just a bit but I did enjoy the story.
Clifton H. Taylor
Wonderful character development, great story, excellently written.
Margie Greenblatt
This is a story of acceptance, love, guilt and distrust.
Andrea at Adventures in All Things Food

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Granfors TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Why do we read? For love, families, relationships, heartbreak, historical lessons, feeling as if we've been there too? IS THIS TOMORROW by Caroline Leavitt masterfully and powerfully takes us to a world that never was even though it is entrenched in our common mythology.

Ava moves her son, Lewis, to the suburbs in the 1950s. She rents a house in a "perfect" neighborhood to provide him with safety and friends. The neighborhood teems with children. But Ava is immediately an outsider: she's too pretty, she has curves, the husbands dance too closely with her, she has a job outside the home because she is a single DIVORCED parent. There is a reason DANGER and DIVORCE both start with D. Now add that she's (don't say it too loud), um, Jewish.

Her son Lewis is a loner because Ava is his mother, because he's too smart, and his teachers wish he wouldn't ask so many questions. Like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, he and Ava are scolded for his reading too well in the early grades.

Lewis and his mom make friends with the kids, Rose and Jimmy, from across the street. Then one day Jimmy disappears. The neighborhood draws together at first to find the culprit,to destroy the danger. Then they drift apart in hopelessness and change.

But people still look at Ava funny, as if she brought this evil down upon them.

Decades pass. We learn more about the hopes and dreams of Ava, Rose, Lewis. We are led to reconsider how Jimmy disappeared as new clues emerge.

But at the heart of the story, we want to see how and if Ava, Lewis, and Rose can make happiness and peace in an imperfect world called reality. There is no perfect place. Life is a rocky road.
Read more ›
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Duffield on May 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
There's past tense and future tense, and then there's Leavitt-tense. Leavitt-tense is when the main storyline so seamlessly intertwines with backstory that the reader can't remember how it is they have come to know these characters so deeply. All they know is that they have.

Is This Tomorrow is a mystery with suspense enough. A child goes missing and his community struggles to carry on with no answers as to why or how. Were this story to include only the linear plotline, it would be as gripping. But Leavitt isn't the kind of author who goes for suspense alone. Leavitt's real strength lies in the characters. Flawed, scared and sometimes deceitful, these characters are your brother, your parents, your children, and perhaps even you. This is why Leavitt's plots can never stop at suspenseful and always move on to haunting.

The 1950's setting is pitch-perfect. You can practically feel the uneven shaggy carpeting of Eve's house under your toes and taste the warming nutmeg in her pies. And you can smell the animosity that this Norman Rockwell-type community feels for a divorced Jewish mother who dares to date and has to work. Is This Tomorrow is a gem. And (hopefully) a future film.
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Format: Paperback
This was a novel that I read and savored slowly, turning the pages was like peeling back an onion as the story unfolded and the characters developed. It is 1956 and Ava Lark is different. She works outside the home and is the only divorced, Jewish single mother in the quiet Boston suburb where they have moved to start a new life. Lewis, 12 years old, doesn't understand why his father has not come to claim or visit him, but he finds friendship with two other children on the block whose father has died. Jimmy and Rose, along with Lewis, roam free and are constant companions until the day that Jimmy goes missing.

The police and the suspicious neighbors question Ava and search diligently for Jimmy until they finally give up, believing he has run away, been kidnapped, murdered, had an accident...no clues were ever found. Lewis feels guilty because he was supposed to meet Jimmy the day he disappeared and did not show up. Rose moves away with her devastated mom. Ava is marginalized by her connection to the family and because she is so different from the other women in the neighborhood so she's left without friends or solace as her son retreats further from her in his own loneliness and guilt.

Lewis leaves home as he searches for a connection that will restore him to the person he was before Jimmy disappeared and for some sort of absolution. Ava, left on her own again, finds fulfillment in a surprising way.

I thought the tone of this novel was sad and it was touching and beautiful in a way that left me a little bit depressed. Even when the mystery of Jimmy's disappearance is solved, the happy ending I so wanted for them all was not assured.

Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin books for the ebook to review.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Copeland on July 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
Leavitt's book is so poignant I must believe she lived one of the central parts. Her depth of understanding of the characters, her magnetic characters, is the deepest I've ever read. The oh-so real human feelings bared here held me tight while also frightening me--perhaps of what would come next, or maybe my own feelings in similar circumstances. This is a story of people dealing with difficult situations, the innermost workings of pain so touching and real I frequently needed to put it aside to digest. At its end, it proved to be more than a good read for me; at its end I felt washed clean of a layer of my own private pain. Leavitt's book is not a frivolous read; it is a rare and most excellent gift. (Ariel I.)
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