Mary Frances (Frankie) Lombard and her older brother William have grown up with a deep love and sense of connection to the Lombard farm. Despite knowing that the partnership between their father and his cousin Sherwood might cause problems with their future legacy, the hope for that future remains strong.

The Excellent Lombards is a coming-of-age tale set in Wisconsin that features young Frankie, and from her perspective, we learn what growing up under these circumstances has instilled in her. We come to understand how she might feel threatened by interlopers like distant cousin Philip, and the ominous presence of his aunt, May Hill, who has some ownership in the property as well.

From her pre-adolescent self to young adulthood, we see how she grows and changes, and observe the various influences on her young life.

The sense of competition flourishes among the various relatives, and at times, it seems like a good thing. Until it isn’t.

How will Frankie eventually resolve her plight? What will her future hold for her, and will she be able to merge her various passions and make a life for herself?

The story unfolded slowly, revealing the emotions, the connections, and what life looked like on a farm that might, eventually, be sold off in order to make way for subdivisions. A changing landscape that mimics how the world in the 21st Century has built upon past versions of a country, a nation.  Rating:

ratings worms 4-cropped






In the middle of the Twentieth Century, in a small town near Boston, Ava Lark and her young son Lewis stand out like a sore thumb. For in 1956, people in white bread communities like this one look askance at single mothers, especially single DIVORCED mothers, and to top it off, Ava is also Jewish.

Across the street, Dot, with two young children, Rose and Jimmy, is also a single mom, but she is a widow. This fact elevates her status in the community. Just a bit.

The three children of the two single moms are best friends, and in this supposedly safe neighborhood, they are often unsupervised for periods of time.

One hot day in April, tragedy strikes. And young Jimmy goes missing.

What happens afterwards will affect all of their lives for decades, and the mystery will linger, even as lives go on in some fashion. Ava struggles to earn her way and to keep her ex-husband from taking custody of their son. But Dot isolates herself more and more and while Rose and Lewis cling to one another, there are subtle changes in their relationship. Fear, guilt, secrets…all of these emotions color everything between them.

Fast forward a few years and we see lives changing. Lewis has moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and Ava discovers a new passion. But underneath the surface, they are all marked and damaged by the events of that April.

What will happen when a startling discovery is made in the once-peaceful community? Will answers be forthcoming? And how will the unveiling of one secret change things? Or will each revelation lead to more questions? Can anything ever be normal again? Or was it ever?

The shifting narrative and time periods reveal snippets of the lives of Ava, Lewis, and Rose, Slowly the puzzle pieces begin to fit together until the picture is complete. Meanwhile, the characters and the settings are richly drawn as the reader is transported back to those times. Those times depicted in the media as peaceful were anything but, and always hovering nearby were the fears and paranoia: nuclear war, Communism, and the stigma placed on those who were different. Beneath the surface, nothing is perfect or as it seems. Is This Tomorrow: A Novel is a hauntingly poignant read. Five stars.