Whatcha reading? Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt

A train friend asks me this with no preliminary every time she sees me. What is a train friend? Someone that you see only in the context of your daily commute to work or school or wherever, but at that intersection of your lives you have a certain habitual banter. Ours is books. This is not a surprise since I am always reading, and so is she. Honestly the only surprise is that either of us ever looked up simultaneously in order to engage that first time. Anyway, it occurred to me yesterday that book blogs are often reviews of books once the reader has finished and assessed. I think it's interesting to hear what people think about books as they are going along (without spoilers, of course!). So without further adieu, here's what I'm reading. I'm halfway through.

Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt tells the story of Ava and Lewis,  a tiny family living in Waltham, Massachusetts in the 1950s. Ava's husband left her, left them, for reasons neither of them understands, and the fact that Ava is also beautiful and Jewish with a string of boyfriends does not help their cause to fit into their new neighborhood. Lewis befriends the only other fatherless children in the area, or they befriend him, and he and Rose and Jimmy spend most of their childhood hours together, until Jimmy disappears. This loss rips the fabric of friendship and of the neighborhood, revealing over time the superficialities and petty jealousies and deeper traumas. My quick descriptions of these character dynamics miss the essential truth that I see at the heart of this novel though, which is that we are all essentially alone, and it is impossible to ever truly know another person. Is is in the trying to know one another that grace an happen. This might sound depressing, but it isn't, because it's beautifully written and also true. Each character has his or her own goals and self-delusions, successes and failures, as we all do, and so I care for them.

My favorite books usually have an adolescent point of view, an element of exploration of what it means to be a teen or a young adult, wanting desperately to be older, to understand the secrets of life as an adult. I like the rawness and honesty of this; adults generally camouflage themselves much better. In this book we get to see deep into Lewis's mind and into Rose's; Jimmy's we see only from others' points of view but learn so much about him as well, even in absence. As a side note I read plenty of young adult, but coming of age is what most speaks to me. I don't really think books should have labels at all, whether for so-called genre or for age or for reading level, because I think labels pigeon-hole both books and readers as least as much as they can help guide. I read all over the place, as you'll see.

And if you want to know what I thought of the book once I finish, and I read about a book a week, then you can check out my rating and sometimes my review by following me on Goodreads. I rate every book that I read, even those rare ones that I don't finish. I read from my own TBR list, from reviews and reader-friend recommendations, and don't take review requests. My comments are strictly my own opinion, unpaid and solicited. But if you are an author and see your book on my TBR list, know that I will get there sooner or later. I generally read books next that have been on my list the longest, but sometimes I jump around, for fun. You know those crazy book people...the life of every party :)


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