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Is This Tomorrow
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Caroline gives an overview of the book:

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...
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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.

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Chapter One
           1956

 

She came home to find him in her kitchen. She was in no mood, having spent the whole morning arguing with a lawyer, but there he was, her son’s best friend, Jimmy Rearson, a twelve-year-old kid home from school at three on a Wednesday afternoon with too long hair and a crush on her, reading all the ingredients on the back of a Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix, tapping the box with a finger. ”Adjust temperature for high altitudes,” he said, as if it really mattered. She felt a pang for him, a boy so lonely he feigned interest in how many eggs and how much sugar a cake might need. He unabashedly leaned over and turned on her radio, and there was Elvis crooning, ”Heartbreak Hotel,” the words splashing into the kitchen.

“How’d you get in here?” Ava asked, reaching over to turn down the music. No one, except for her, locked doors in the neighborhood. She had her kid wearing a key around his neck like an amulet. Other kids were allowed to run free to wander in and out of everyone else’s houses, something Ava never could quite get used to. It wasn’t that she had anything to steal—truthfully, she had so much less now—but still, there was Brian, miles away, breathing down her neck with a custody threat, telling her he got a lawyer and she’d better get one, too, because he was going to file to revisit their agreement. But in fact, she had started locking her doors the moment the movers left, two years ago  and maybe that was what made the neighborhood suspicious. “Don’t you like kids? What’s the matter, do you think they’re going to wreck your house?” a neighbor asked, but how could she explain what she was afraid of? 

 “Your lock is easy,” Jimmy said. “All it took was a bit of wire.”

“Don’t break into my house again,” she said. She didn’t know if she was angry or not, but she didn’t like the way it sounded. Easy to break into. 

 “Lewis is at the dentist,” she said. She had given Lewis money to take a cab (it wouldn’t cost much), and by the time Lewis was finished and safely home, Ava would be at work.

“I know. He told me at school. I’m meeting him at my house later. ” 

She nodded at the box in his hands, and then glanced at her watch. No matter what kind she bought, the mixes never turned out right. Quick and easy, the labels always said, but the cakes were always dry and powdery, and what good was quick if it was also tasteless? Well, baking was something to do, and they had some time. She didn’t have to be at the plumbing company until five today. It was her day off, but she took an emergency evening shift she couldn’t afford to turn down, not if she didn’t want to go back to retail, which paid less, gave her fewer hours and had no chance of advancement. It was only for an hour tonight, too, typing letters about 14k gold toilets and colored tubs that Richard, her boss, said had to be ready to go first thing in the morning, but even the small extra pay would be something she could tuck in the bank. “Want to bake?” she said, and he looked at her. “Boys don’t cook,” he said, abandoning the box on the counter. “Can we play checkers instead?”

“Sure. Why not,” she said.

She set up the board on her dining room table, giving him the red pieces. She didn’t really like checkers all that much, but she always seemed to be playing it with the kids. She would make sure they beat her so they’d feel good. Today, though, she wanted to take her mind off her problems, so she concentrated and without really meaning to, she won the game.

“Well, what do you know!” she said. She looked over at Jimmy, and then, shocked, saw that he was blinking back tears.

 

caroline-leavitt's picture

Dear readers, 
Thank you so much for considering my work. I love hearing from readers (and other writers). This is my first book set in another time period, and I found so much about the 1950s to be relevant to today.  

About Caroline

Caroline Leavitt's 9th novel,  Pictures of You, was published by Algonquin Books in 2011 and is a New York Times bestseller. She is the award-winning author of eight other novels: Meeting Rozzy Halfway, Lifelines, Jealousies, ...

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Published Reviews

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Fiction Baby Love A young mother tries to undo some bad decisions.

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