Title: Is This Tomorrow
Author: Caroline Leavitt
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Ava is a working single mother and recent divorcee with a son, Lewis. When they move onto a quiet street, people aren’t very welcoming. After all, single working moms were viewed with suspicion in the 1950s. Lewis is quick to make friends with the other two fatherless children on the block, Jimmy and Rose, but when Jimmy goes missing, it brings out the hidden darker side of the neighborhood.
Is This Tomorrow is a thought-provoking novel about a woman doing her best to make her way in the world, despite the muck she often finds herself in. Ava is an amazing character, the highlight of the book in many ways. There is so much about her that is strong, yet Leavitt manages to also make her vulnerable. She wants so much for herself and for Lewis, but Ava also knows well enough to keep her expectations low. As all the characters in the novel do, she makes some bad decisions over the course of the book, but she’s written realistically, which is refreshing. Her work ethic and drive are admirable and readers will thoroughly enjoy getting to know her.
Leavitt does an excellent job capturing the mood of the 1950s. There’s paranoia everywhere; while neighbors profess to be close to one another, there’s suspicion around every corner. Ava is ostracized because of her status, though she tries to be the best neighbor she can. The author really delves into many issues of class and status in Is This Tomorrow. Women’s issues, racism, prejudice—this book covers many fronts and serious issues within its pages.
Though it seems like the central plotline of Is This Tomorrow is Jimmy’s disappearance, it’s actually secondary to Ava’s story. However, as the novel progresses, this storyline becomes more important, using Jimmy’s disappearance to frame the bigger issues of the novel. Leavitt explores this story well, and readers will be left guessing as to what happens to Jimmy. The final reveal is so tragic, if a bit coincidental, and will leave readers shaken to their core.
Book clubs should definitely take note of Is This Tomorrow; Ava’s journey and the difficulties she faces will make readers want to discuss this novel at length. It’s got a great balance of story, character development, and thoughtfulness; Leavitt portrays the different aspects of it incredibly well. If you’re looking for a contemplative novel that you’ll breeze through, this is a great book to pick up.
Other books by Caroline Leavitt: