Review: Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt

Is This Tomorrow1 In 1956, when divorced, working-mom Ava Lark rents a house with her twelve-year-old son, Lewis, in a Boston suburb, the neighborhood is 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 era of the Cold War, bomb scares, and paranoia seizes the opportunity to further ostracize Ava and her son. Lewis never recovers from the disappearance of his childhood friend. By the time he reaches his twenties, he’s living a directionless life, a failure in love, estranged from his mother. Rose is now a schoolteacher in another city, watching over children as she was never able to watch over her own brother. Ava is building a new life for herself in a new decade. When the mystery of Jimmy’s disappearance is unexpectedly solved, all three must try to reclaim what they have lost. – Goodreads

Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt is told from three different perspectives: Ava, divorced, working, Jewish mother; Ava’s son, Lewis; and Rose, Lewis’s best friend and sister to Jimmy – a boy who inexplicably vanishes from the neighborhood, never to be seen again. While Jimmy is not a narrator and he does make a brief appearance, it is his absence itself that bears such a strong presence throughout the story.

Lewis, Jimmy, and Rose were an inseparable trio. After Jimmy disappeared, Lewis and Rose were devastated and launched their own investigation into his disappearance, over which their bond strengthened even further. Unfortunately, when it became clear that Jimmy would not be coming home, Rose’s mother moved the family to Pittsburg, and Lewis lost touch with her completely. He had a few friends over the next few years, but no one he was close to. When Lewis was seventeen, he left home and struck out on his own.

Because of the loss of Jimmy, both Rose and Lewis are unable to form or maintain meaningful relationships; Lewis has even become estranged from Ava. After living alone in Wisconsin for years, Lewis decides to hunt for Rose – and when he finds her, their feelings are just as strong as ever. While staying with Rose in Pittsburg, Lewis decides to search for the father who abandoned him as a young boy. Rose accompanies Lewis on his quest, never knowing that they are about to inadvertently learn the truth about what happened to Jimmy all those years ago.

Is This Tomorrow is a sorrowful tale of loss, loneliness, and finding one’s place in the world. Caroline Leavitt is not a “happy endings” type of author, as in, everything does not fall perfectly into place as the story develops. In earlier books this was frustrating to me, but I have now come to appreciate this quality in her writing. She tells her story with a quiet yet colorful voice that easily triggers your imagination into action. This is absolutely a book worth your time – time that you want to take very soon.

4 stars, my friend

Source: Free Library of Philadelphia Digital Library

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