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Is This Tomorrow
Cover of Is This Tomorrow
Is This Tomorrow
A Novel
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In 1956, Ava Lark rents a house with her twelve-year-old son, Lewis, in a desirable Boston suburb. Ava is beautiful, divorced, Jewish, and a working mom. She finds her neighbors less than welcoming. Lewis yearns for his absent father, befriending the only other fatherless kids: Jimmy and Rose. One afternoon, Jimmy goes missing. The neighborhood—in the throes of Cold War paranoia—seizes the opportunity to further ostracize Ava and her son.

Years later, when Lewis and Rose reunite to untangle the final pieces of the tragic puzzle, they must decide: Should you tell the truth even if it hurts those you love, or should some secrets remain buried?

In 1956, Ava Lark rents a house with her twelve-year-old son, Lewis, in a desirable Boston suburb. Ava is beautiful, divorced, Jewish, and a working mom. She finds her neighbors less than welcoming. Lewis yearns for his absent father, befriending the only other fatherless kids: Jimmy and Rose. One afternoon, Jimmy goes missing. The neighborhood—in the throes of Cold War paranoia—seizes the opportunity to further ostracize Ava and her son.

Years later, when Lewis and Rose reunite to untangle the final pieces of the tragic puzzle, they must decide: Should you tell the truth even if it hurts those you love, or should some secrets remain buried?

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About the Author-
  • Caroline Leavitt is the award-winning author of eleven novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Pictures of You and Is This Tomorrow. Her essays and stories have been included in New York magazine, Psychology Today, More, Parenting, Redbook, and Salon. She's a book critic for People, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and she teaches writing online at Stanford and UCLA.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 27, 2013
    Few events are as tragic as the loss of a child, especially when the circumstances are unclear. In Leavitt's story of 1950's suburbia, discord strikes when divorced working mother Ava Lark moves in. Although the neighborhood closes ranks against Ava, her 12-year old son Lewis finds two friends: Jimmy and Rose, siblings marginally more acceptable because their father is dead. When Jimmy dis-appears, a neighborhood gripped by the paranoia of the era mobilizes to search for Jimmy, but there are those who suspect Ava since Jimmy frequented her home. Already yearning for his father, Lewis withdraws into himself as Jimmy fails to materialize, and abandonment is complete when Rose and her mother move away. An eight-year temporal leap finds Lewis working at a hospital in a different state and Rose teaching elementary school, though neither remain in contact. Leavitt (Pictures of You), known for her ability to plumb the depths of human emotions, reveals the far-reaching effects of Jim-my's disappearance on the entire character of the neighborhood. Her real strength lies in her portrayal of grief's many manifestations in those most closely affected: Lewis, Rose, and the two mothers. Leavitt demonstrates through Lewis and Rose that without closure, the grief remains dormant yet re-tains its power.

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2013
    Two troubled families--are there any other kind in Leavitt's novels (Pictures of You, 2011, etc.)?--grapple to cope with a 12-year-old boy's disappearance. Ava moved to Waltham, Mass., with her son Lewis after her divorce. Although her selfish husband, Brian, left them and Ava is working for a pittance at a plumbing company to support her son, the censorious neighbors disapprove of her dating and disdain her for being Jewish; in Leavitt's less-than-nuanced portrait, these suburbanites are virtual caricatures of 1950s anti-Semitism, sexism and anti-intellectualism. Lewis, told "not to be so smart" by his teachers, finds best friends in also-ostracized siblings Jimmy and Rose, whose widowed mother, Dot, is sort of nice to Ava. But when Jimmy vanishes one afternoon, ugly rumors circulate. Wasn't there something, well, strange about the boy's relationship with Ava? Or maybe Ava's new boyfriend, Jake--a jazz musician, so clearly no good--had something to do with the boy's disappearance. Jake can't take the pressure and splits. Ava, Lewis, Rose and Dot are traumatized in individual ways that don't necessarily draw them together, though Rose continues to pine unrequitedly for Lewis. Seven years later, in 1963, Lewis is a nurse's aide in Madison, obsessively caring for others but unable to share anything of himself. Orphaned Rose teaches third grade in Ann Arbor, freaking out any time she sees a child more than a few feet from adult supervision. Only Ava, still stuck at the plumbing company but baking magnificent pies in her spare time for a local cafe, seems to be rebuilding her life, when the discovery of Jimmy's remains forces everyone to face their unresolved issues. The mystery of what exactly happened to Jimmy is cleared up via not one, but two incredibly contrived revelations, and neither Lewis nor Rose is a vivid enough personality for readers to care much whether they'll ever get together. A moderately interesting story told in extremely broad strokes.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2013

    Ava Lark, a divorced Jewish woman, and her 12-year-old son, Lewis, move into a WASPy 1950s Boston suburb only to be ostracized by their neighbors and sucked into a heart-wrenching ordeal. When Lewis's friend Jimmy goes missing, his disappearance has lifelong consequences for Ava, Lewis, and Rose, Jimmy's sister. By the time Lewis is in his twenties, he is estranged from his mother, while Rose has moved away and become a teacher. The truth of what happens to Jimmy comes out unexpectedly, forcing the three of them to confront truths they've long suppressed. VERDICT It's Harlan Coben visits the Eisenhower era as Leavitt (Pictures of You) sets out to portray a repressive society and the way it stifles a sympathetic heroine who is oblivious to the social ramifications of her string of former boyfriends. Although the backstory at times dissipates the tension, this tale of domestic suspense builds to a shocking climax and will appeal to anyone immersed in suburban lore. [Five-city author tour.]--J.L. Morin, Boston Univ.

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    May 1, 2013
    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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • The Huffington Post

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

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