2007: 105. Tomorrow Will Be Better

“There couldn’t be a colder - a lonelier place in the whole world, thought Margy Shannon, than a deserted Brooklyn street on a Saturday night.”

Tomorrow Will Be Better, Betty Smith

First and foremost, let me say that my copy does NOT have this atrocious 1970’s cover.  Mine is the original cloth hardback, bought for $3 at some yard sale, but almost certainly the first edition.  Ever since I read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, I have picked up other Betty Smith novels whenever I had the chance, and have always been disappointed by them.  Tomorrow Will Be Better is Smith’s second novel, and while it is no Tree, I enjoyed more than Maggie, Now and Joy in the Morning, so I give it a qualified approval.

It is a sad little story of Margy, who lives in Brooklyn and wants a better life than her unhappy parents, but ends up in the same sort of empty marriage, just to get out of her parents house.  It is the story of love and marriage, and how hard it is for young, uneducated people to find people they can be happy with, especially when the women have so few options, and their lives are so poor.  It is depressing, like parts of Tree are, but doesn’t have the same rich detail, and moments of sweetness that cut the bitterness of Tree.  When the only uplifting thing is the thought of a divorce, the book is pretty grim.  I don’t know if Betty Smith only had one good book in her, but having read a fair share of her oeuvre, I am left feeling like she had a hard and sad life, with a mother who didn’t love her, and father who let her down.  Now, maybe her life was grand, but her fiction reads loud and clear - happiness is hard won and rare, people will let you down, and disappointment is everywhere.  Not such a cheerful message.   She can write, no doubt about it, but unless you have a taste for melancholy, I recommend Tree, where the sadness is leavened with love and a little hope.

Recommended for:  People who loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and want more, with more sadness

Date/Place Completed: 7/12/07; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017