These days, divorce is fairly commonplace and so are fractured families, but this was not so in the 1950s when Caroline Leavitt’s book, IS THIS TOMORROW, is set. Families had a mom, dad and children --- and those whose families did not “conform” to this structure could feel like outsiders. Thus, when Ava Lark, the divorcee, meets Dot Rearson, the widow, and their children --- Ava’s Lewis and Dot’s Rose and Jimmy --- become fast friends, there is some solidity to their lives, though they are not like everyone else’s. Then Jimmy goes missing, and the fragile world that they have fabricated falls apart.
This story is rich with characters, and words said and those unspoken. What appeared from looking out a front window is not what was really going on in this neighborhood, and the way Caroline lays out the story and then layers it is really brilliant. It creeps up on you, and the plot wraps and turns as people intersect and re-connect. It shows that a number of small moments that no one gave much thought to can lead to something that no one expected. It’s a literary mystery with a lot of depth as well as a social commentary on the mores and times of the ’50s.