Is This Tomorrow

"I'm Jewish. I'm divorced. I have a son." Ava Lark lays out the facts when meeting prospective suitors, refusing to set herself up for disappointment and accepting her limited chances for happiness in 1950s suburban Boston. In Is This Tomorrow, Caroline Leavitt's 10th novel, Ava is working in a demeaning typing pool to provide a home for her and 11-year-old Lewis when a horrific incident changes the course of their lives.

Shunned by the neighbors, Ava and Lewis have two friends: Jimmy and Rose, the kids next door. The three children are all fatherless--Jimmy and Rose's dad died--and, with that common bond, develop a loyalty and reliance that is charming but foreboding. When Jimmy disappears, Lewis and Rose are despondent, fearful and wracked with guilt. Investigations and searches are fruitless. The community moves forward, but in alternating chapters beginning seven years after Jimmy vanishes, readers learn that as adults Lewis and Rose cannot escape the haunting loss.

Leavitt establishes three storylines in the last half of this well-drawn novel: Lewis, Rose and Ava live in different cities, yet share the trauma of their past. Will the mystery of Jimmy's disappearance be solved, or must they learn to cope without resolution?

There's redemption in Ava gaining acceptance as the 1960s unfold, but Leavitt spotlights the prejudice, McCarthyism, sexism and stultifying mores of the previous decade. And the details of Jimmy's fate surface in unexpected plot twists, impacting Ava, Lewis and Rose in surprising and dramatic ways. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, bookseller, Book Passage, San Francisco

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