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Is This Tomorrow: A Novel Paperback – May 7, 2013
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Stewart O'Nan, author of Emily, Alone and The Odds
"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."
Kathryn Lang, The Boston Globe
Mary Polis, MSN Entertainment Page Turner
"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
Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
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.
In 1956, in the suburbs of Boston, young divorcée Ava Lark is struggling to make it. She and her 12-year-old son, Lewis, are the only Jewish family in the neighborhood (and their neighbors don't hesitate to share their Jewish stereotypes), and one of only two families living without a man, although the other family lost their patriarch when he died unexpectedly. Ava dreams of a better life for her and her son--she wants to be financially stable enough to buy the house in which they live; she wants a steady job, a happy son, friends, and romance. Yet none of it seems to go her way.
Twelve-year-old Lewis isn't quite aware of his mother's struggles, but he wishes she were more like the other mothers in the neighborhood. He wishes his father would return, or at least take him away from his life. His only solace are his two best friends, Jimmy and his older sister, Rose. The three are inseparable--the self-titled Three Musketeers--and share nearly everything, although there are times when Jimmy and Lewis exclude Rose, and Rose struggles with her feelings for Lewis, who is oblivious to how she feels. The two boys dream of escaping their hometown, and have a map on which their entire future route is planned.
One afternoon, Jimmy disappears. No one knows what happened to him, but the neighborhood--in the heart of the Cold War and fears of communism--suspects everyone. Ava's life becomes scrutinized and criticized even more, her every romantic relationship open to suspicion, even the fact that Jimmy had a crush on her. For Rose and Lewis, Jimmy's disappearance turns their lives around in so many ways. Both believe he is still alive, and vow to find him, no matter how long it takes.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book, held my interest, character development good. Unexpected things happened, and I thought the ending was appropriate.Published 4 days ago by Catherine Smith
This story about a missing preteen takes place in the 1950's. I grew up in the fifties and felt the author did a great job describing that time and she brought back many memories. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
Beautiful and painful. I enjoyed the vintage feel. The middle of the book lagged a bit. I enjoyed the read.Published 13 days ago by Jo
Not sure what I was expecting from this story, but I never really got emotionally involved with the characters. Everyone involved seemed to just go numb. Read morePublished 17 days ago by ellen b parton
I enjoyed the
This book had a nice pace and kept my interest throughout. I liked the fact that the characters had depth and were not predictable.
I found it difficult to put this book down. The story is richly complex. The characters are real. The consequences of actions are foremost in this story. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Donna King
I kept reading this book, thinking that surely there would be a redeeming feature. I was mistaken. One of the worst books I have ever read. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Amazon shortyminorty
This is a very slow book which if it had a great ending would have possible been worth reading instead the author made the whole book uninteresting by making the main point boring... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Dorothea B. Redenbaugh
I read her earlier book "Pictures of You" and loved it. This book was equally enjoyable and captured perfectly the 1950's with the opinions of that era on divorce, single... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Kindle Customer