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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.
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.
I did enjoy the story, but wish there were more finesse in the editing. And the ending? Not satisfying. At the very least ditch the last sentence, it serves no purpose. I read the author's justification for why she leaves her stories hanging, and the fill-in-the-blank, make up your own ending, needs a much stronger character development to be believable for the reader.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved the book...but the ending is lacking it felt as if it was unfinished. Would recommend to a friend.Published 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
And that's a good hallmark for an interesting read. Leavitt developed characters who are flawed without making them annoying. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
Another enjoyable read. Ms. Leavitt is officially going on my list of favorite authors. I like how she explores relationships in a realistic fashion. Her characters are comp! Read morePublished 9 months ago by GNT
I enjoyed this book. Most of it was just very sad, but a good thought provaking read.Published 10 months ago by Sandra Summers
I adored this book, and couldn't put it down. Leavitt is masterful at crafting complex characters that both engage and challenge the reader. Read morePublished 10 months ago by G.P.
This book started out very well, but drive led on to a predictable romance novel. What a waste of time.Published 10 months ago by Darlene M. Geyer
I gave it four stars because I enjoyed reading it, especially the parts about the social rules of that era. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
I enjoyed the first part of the book. I could totally relate to the way divorced people & children of divorced parents were treated like lepers in the 50's and 60's. Read morePublished 11 months ago by CindyE