Author: Caroline Leavitt
Length: 360 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Rating: 4 Stars
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. -Goodreads
The 1950's were no place for anyone who broke the June Cleaver, cookie cutter mold that America held as the gold standard of motherhood and home. Unfortunately for Ava Lark, and even more so for her son Lewis, her single parent, working mother status manages to do just that. Branded as "an outsider" and somehow less than; shunned at school; and feeling alone, Lewis is overjoyed when he finds friendship with Jimmy and Rose.
Just when Lewis thinks that he has found the light at the end of the tunnel; Jimmy disappears and Lewis and his mother are once again surrounded by suspicion once again.
This book is about those moments in life that for good or ill, change the course of one's life forever.
For Lewis and Rose, that moment is the disappearance of Jimmy. Even though the case is solved, these two are forever marked by the guilt and loss that they suffered as children.
This is a beautiful story that is at times proves very taxing for modern sensibilities. As a reader, one can't help being affected by the realism and at times, raw emotional honesty with which the characters are written.
The best part of the book by far, is the journey toward closure that each of the players in this tragic saga take.
This is not a case of "happily ever after" by any means, but in real life what story ever truly is?
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Caroline Leavitt is the prize-winning author of Girls In Trouble, Coming Back To Me, Living Other Lives, Into Thin Air, Family, Jealousies, Lifelines and Meeting Rozzy Halfway. Various titles were optioned for film, translated into different languages, and condensed in magazines. Her ninth novel, Pictures of You, went into three printings months before publication and is now in its fourth printing. A New York Times bestseller, it was also a Costco "Pennie's Pick," A San Francisco Chronicle Editor's Choice "Lit Pick," and was one of the top 20 books published so far in 2011, as named by BookPage. Pictures of You was also on the Best Books of 2011 lists from The San Francisco Chronicle, The Providence Journal, Bookmarks Magazine and Kirkus Reviews. Her new novel, Is This Tomorrow, will be published May 2013 by Algonquin Books.
Her many essays, stories, book reviews and articles have appeared in Salon, Psychology Today, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, People, Real Simple, New York Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Parenting,The Chicago Tribune, Parents, Redbook, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and numerous anthologies.
She won the First Prize in Redbook Magazine's Young Writers Contest for her short story, "Meeting Rozzy Halfway," which grew into the novel. The recipient of a 1990 New York Foundation of the Arts Award for Fiction for Into Thin Air, she was also a National Magazine Award nominee for personal essay, and she was awarded a 2005 honorable mention, Goldenberg Prize for Fiction from the Bellevue Literary Review, for "Breathe," a portion of Pictures of You. As a screenwriter, Caroline was a 2003 Nickelodeon Screenwriting Fellow Finalist, and is a recent first-round finalist in the Sundance Screenwriting Lab competition for her script of Is This Tomorrow.
Caroline has been a judge in both the Writers' Voice Fiction Awards in New York City and the Midatlantic Arts Grants in Fiction. She teaches novel writing online at both Stanford University and UCLA, as well as working with writers privately.
Caroline has appeared on The Today Show, Diane Rehm, German and Canadian TV, and more, and she has been featured on The View From The Bay.
She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, New York City's unofficial sixth borough, with her husband, the writer Jeff Tamarkin, and their teenage son Max.
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