Rating – 4/5
At eighteen, Margy Shannon has simple wants. A suitable career until she finds a husband, followed by children and a cozy home. She will no longer need to know want or hunger. Nor will she have to listen to her mother’s resentment or hear her parents’ bitter fights. Then comes along Frankie Malone and its love at first meet. But a shattering tragedy pulls Margy back from the brink of achieving all her dreams, and forces her into grim adulthood.
Tomorrow Will Be Better is a simple coming-of-age story by Betty Smith (of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn fame) set in the author’s own hometown of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While this book is set almost a hundred years ago and written in 1948, the magic of Betty Smith’s storytelling makes it as relevant as ever in 2020.
One of the pleasures that comes with a Betty Smith book is the characters that the author creates. Every character is so wholly and beautifully constructed that it is impossible to really love or hate anybody. You just have to accept them as they are, with all their flaws.
Progressive and outspoken herself, Smith doesn’t shy away from tackling topics like religion, immigration and women in the workforce. Margy struggles to reconcile with the fact that a working wife would be seen as a disgrace and would be an insult to husband. However, the overarching theme of the book is the pressures of marriage, especially when struck by poverty. Both Margy and Frankie try to bring their best into the relationship but are weighted down by financial and familial constraints. Bring an unexpected tragedy into the mix, and the situation turns explosive.
Despite its sad themes, Tomorrow Will Be Better is a joyful and hopeful book and much like the title, is full of promise of better things to come.
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