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.
When divorced, single mother Ava moves with her young son Lewis to a Boston suburb, neither of them could have known how much their lives would change. Being divorced is enough for the neighbors to snub the noses at Ava, but add in the fact that she is Jewish and there is nothing working in her favor. Things aren't any better for Lewis, who is picked on daily and is struggling with the faltering relationship with his father.
Jimmy and Rose live on the same street as Lewis and are also fatherless. The three of them become best friends and spend most of their time together. But on one evening when Lewis and Rose fail to meet up with Jimmy after school, he disappears. Years later, when what happened to Jimmy is finally discovered, Lewis and Rose come together to put the past together and to finally learn to move on with their lives.
If you have followed my blog for a while, you may notice that I have a very intense obsession with stories of missing people. When I first came across Is This Tomorrow, I knew I had to read it for two reasons: there is a missing child, and I absolutely loved Leavitt's previous novel, Pictures of You. I am so happy to say that this book did not disappoint.
The book is told from each character's life view, slowly piecing together small bits of the story, allowing you to see each part of their lives from a different angle. We first meet Ava, struggling to make a life for her and Lewis while dealing with her divorce and loneliness. Her neighbors and coworkers all ignore her or make snide remarks towards her. She loves her son, but she is lonely too. She goes on dates hoping to find love and companionship but all that seems to do is ostracize her further. I felt sorry for her, having do deal with all the prejudices of her peers. I had to keep reminding myself that these were different times and people had different beliefs back then, but it didn't make me feel any better. I hoped she would find someone or at least something to give her some purpose.
Lewis was just a small boy when his parents got divorced and I connected with him right away for this very reason. I was young too when my parents divorced so I could sympathize with him and his feelings. I couldn't imagine being a child growing up in these times and dealing with the same hatred that Ava was witnessing, only having no understanding of why. He was very smart and a very likable character, I only wanted to see him grow and finally come to terms with the loss of Jimmy and his father.
Rose, Jimmy's sister, is in love with Lewis and wants nothing more than to let him know. But she is afraid. She is embarrassed about her feelings for a younger boy and she doesn't know how to go about them. I felt sad for her as well, having to navigate through her feelings alone.
When I first picked up this book, I was expecting more of the story to focus on Jimmy's disappearance as an event. But instead, we hear mostly about it through the character's feelings and how it has shaped their lives. Even though this wasn't what I expected, I still enjoyed it considerably. It was fascinating to watch each character go through the same loss but deal with it in a completely different way.
I also have to say that the truth about Jimmy's disappearance really threw me. I was certain from the beginning that I knew what happened to him and was shocked at the outcome. This is what I look for in a good book, to be completely thrown. The author did an incredible job keeping me guessing and left me with my jaw hanging on the floor at the end.
Overall, this was a remarkable read. It's a story of love, secrets and what true friendship really means. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a deeper, emotional read.
For more about Caroline Leavitt or Is This Tomorrow, visit her website here.
*I received this book for free in exchange of my honest review. This did not influence my opinion in any way and all views and opinions expressed are 100% my own.