Review: Is This Tomorrow

Is This Tomorrow
Is This Tomorrow
By Caroline Leavitt
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Paperback, 9781616200541, May 2013, 384pp.)

The Short of It:

A compelling plot with imperfect, sometimes frustrating characters but the honesty in the writing won me over.

The Rest of It:

Caroline Leavitt is a “new to me” writer. I’ve seen her books around but it wasn’t until I started reading her posts on Facebook that I really became interested in her writing. First off, she is constantly writing. I respect that and what I respect most is that even though she is an accomplished author, she still works (really hard I might add) at what ends up on the page. The other thing to note, is that she can be pretty funny. I love a good sense of humor. When her new book,  Is This Tomorrow showed up on NetGalley, I snatched it up.

In a Boston suburb during the mid-fifties, Ava Lark rents a house for her and her son Lewis. Recently divorced and working full-time, Ava struggles to find a balance between work and caring for her son. What makes it even more difficult is that she’s Jewish and the rest of the neighborhood already considers her an outcast. She works, dates around and isn’t home as often as she’d like. But the neighborhood is safe and the house is comfortable and even more important, affordable. Ava hopes to buy the house one day.

But something horrible happens. Jimmy, best friend to Lewis and Rose goes missing and leaves all of them, including Ava, questioning the safeness of the neighborhood. With all of the unknowns involved in his disappearance, Ava’s lifestyle is put under a microscope and Lewis and Rose find themselves completely lost without their childhood friend.

Missing children seem to be a popular subject for books these days. I thought this book would walk down the same path as some of the others I’ve read but there is more to this story than a missing child. For one, Ava’s wrecked marriage and her struggle to keep it together is enough to be a book on its own. But then you add this horrible thing and suddenly what you have is a snapshot of time that no one wants to revisit, but can’t seem to get away from. It’s compelling and to be honest, Ava is not likable. At least, she wasn’t likable to me. She is head-strong, kind at times but also a little selfish. She is one of those women that trouble tap-dances around. At the same time, some of the decisions she makes are ones that I’d expect a strong woman to make so I found myself conflicted over my feelings for her.

The kids. We don’t get to know Jimmy all that well before he goes missing, but we see the devastation in Lewis and Rose and that was enough for me to become one of those nervous readers, wringing my hands at the thought of him not turning up. But what goes on during this time, during this search for Jimmy is well… life. Life goes on and it’s sad to think that a neighborhood can move on, but it does and Leavitt captures this in the honest way she has with words. It’s not pretty, but did it feel real? Yes, yes it did.

There is one part that seemed a bit too convenient but I was okay with it because something good had to come out of all of this and I was happy with the direction the story took. It’s sad, but ultimately hopeful which is a bonus when reading a story like this. I can’t say that I liked Ava any better by the end of the book, but I can say that I understood her better. She’s not perfect and as a mom, I could relate to a lot of what she was going through. I guess what I am saying is that I appreciated that she wasn’t perfect and accepted her for who she was even though I had a harsh opinion of her mid-way through.

There is a little bit of everything here. The mystery surrounding the disappearance, the challenges of being a single parent and the effect that relationships, both past and present have on you.

Overall, well done and compelling.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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18 thoughts on “Review: Is This Tomorrow”

    1. I just love that she makes writing look like work. That sounds bad, but when writing doesn’t come easy to most of us, it’s inspiring to see others work at it. It’s a good reminder that it’s not allglamorous.

    1. Who would be attracted to a story about a missing kid anyway? Hey, did you see the news about those three missing girls, found after 10 years? Wow!

    1. It’s not the kind of book that you drool over and stroke affectionately but there’s just enough conflict to make it stick with you long after reading it and it pulls you in rather quickly.

  1. I haven’t read any of her books and will look out for her. I did read one with a similar storyline – Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio.

    1. That’s what appealed to me too. I like characters that are not cut from the same cloth either. Imperfections are a plus.

  2. At first Pictures of You didn’t call out to me either, but eventually I decided I needed to read it. Then I didn’t. Because I’m scattered that way. Same goes for this one. I’d stand a much better chance of getting to them if they were on audio!

  3. There are a ton of missing kid books out there…I am reading one now…looks good and it must be if you found it!

  4. I’m trying to think why this author’s name sounds so familiar. I’ll have to figure out why. This sounds good … I like a book that is a mix of a few genres.

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