Suburban Life, Torn Asunder

In the Hoboken author's latest novel, a suburban community is torn asunder by a 12-year-old's disappearance during the Red Scare 1950s.

As a divorced Jewish mother, Ava never quite settles into the cookie-cutter mold of 1950s life in the tony suburbs outside Boston. Still, her 12-year-old son Lewis bonds with the neighbor kids, siblings Rose and Jimmy, whose widowed mother is also single.

Despite the judgmental and pitying looks from neighbors and peers, the three kids paint their own version of a cozy suburbia. Jimmy and Lewis even plan a cross-country roadtrip for their future 20-something selves, dotting a ragged map with push pins and thread.

The carefree days end when Jimmy suddenly disappears. In an era of Red Scare paranoia, questions and accusations fill the neighborhood: Was Jimmy taken by a stranger? Did Ava—the loner and outsider—have a hand in the disappearance? Are the police doing enough to find the boy? Who can be trusted?

Time passes, but Jimmy’s disappearance continues to haunt the lives of Rose, Lewis and Ava. Rose becomes a teacher in Michigan, nervously overseeing her students at recess, fearful that one of them will go missing. Lewis escapes for Wisconsin, following the trail on the map he and Lewis had marked for their future road trip. Still, the mystery of Jimmy’s unfinished life catches up with them.

Is This Tomorrow (Algonquin Books) is the 10th novel by Hoboken-based author Caroline Leavitt. By focusing on the consequences of Jimmy’s disappearance rather than the disappearance itself, Leavitt exposes her characters’ inner turmoil and the dramatic changes they undergo.

When Leavitt finally reveals the truth about Jimmy’s disappearance, far from cathartic, it is more shocking than any conspiracy theory.

Click here to leave a comment
Read more Books, Jersey Living articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.