Tomorrow Will Be Better [Book Review] #classics

December 11, 2020

Tomorrow Will Be Better by Betty Smith

Tomorrow Will Be Better by Betty Smith (cover) Image: a sepia tone picture of a row of Brooklyn apartments

Genre/Categories: Classic Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Vintage, Young Adult

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Thanks #HarperPerennial @HarperPerennial for a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Written 70 years ago and set in Brooklyn 100 years ago, Tomorrow Will Be Better is a timeless, coming-of-age story of love and a young marriage, of poverty and hardship, of hope and second chances. Margy Shannon hopes optimistically for a better life than her parents. Weary of living a life of hardship with her quarreling parents, she dreams about landing a well paying job, finding a loving husband, and establishing her own home.

My Thoughts:

Republished Classic: Some classics hold up across decades and Tomorrow Will Be Better is definitely timeless. If you’ve read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or Joy in the Morning, you will enjoy Tomorrow Will Be Better. Even though this book seems like it would be shelved as historical fiction, I think that technically it fits in the Vintage Contemporary category. Here’s the explanation: to be histfic, the book’s story needs to be set (approximately) forty years before it was published. Since this has a 1920s setting and was published in the 1940s, it doesn’t neatly fit the histfic genre. So my understanding is that it is considered Vintage Contemporary because it was written a long time ago but the setting wasn’t over forty years from the time of the publishing date. Although….now since it’s currently republished maybe now it is considered Vintage histfic! Confused yet? I need clarification from my friend Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Blog who is an expert in the histfic contemporary/vintage genre! Help me out here Davida! I’m digging myself a deep hole! #BookNerdProblems

Likable Character: Margy Shannon is a memorable and relatable young adult character. She never gives up hopes for a better tomorrow, dreams big, and works hard. When life gets difficult, she strives to make the best of it while demonstrating grit, loyalty, and compassion. Her parents are less than likable characters and may represent many of that generation who expressed love in negative ways and found themselves in similar circumstances.

Time and Place: Betty Smith immerses us into the setting of Brooklyn in the 1920s and we feel like we are experiencing life there alongside Margy.

POV: The main Point of View is Margy’s, but hearing the story briefly from various points of view creates a rich reading experience.

Themes: In life’s difficult circumstances, there is HOPE for a better tomorrow. Other thoughtful themes include family loyalty, parent-child relationships, poverty versus the American Dream, jumping into marriage to escape home, and coming of age.

“That was Margy’s whole philosophy, her Golden hope–that she had all of her life before her.”

Recommend: I enthusiastically recommend the work of Betty Smith. Tomorrow Will Be Better is more sad than A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Francie is my favorite). If you are new to classics, Betty Smith might be a good place to start. Recommended for fans of classic literary fiction and for book clubs.

My Rating:  4 Stars


Tomorrow Will Be Better

Tomorrow Will Be Better Information Here

Meet the Author, Betty Smith

Author Betty SmithBetty Smith was born Elisabeth Wehner on December 15, 1896, the same date as, although five years earlier than, her fictional heroine Francie Nolan. The daughter of German immigrants, she grew up poor in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the very world she recreates with such meticulous detail in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Smith also wrote other novels and had a long career as a dramatist, writing one-act and full-length plays for which she received both the Rockefeller Fellowship and the Dramatists Guild Fellowship. She died in 1972.

Image Source: Wikipedia


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  1. To answer your question… I would call it vintage (because it was first published over 50 years ago), contemporary (because it takes place less than 50 years prior to the initial publication date) fiction. True purists of the most traditional definition of historical fiction would agree, since they say it isn’t historical unless it takes place 50 years or more before the year of the author’s birth! Does that help?

    • I can say that I enjoyed my reread of Tree better than the first time! But I understand how sometimes you just can’t connect with a book. Reading is such a personal experience.

  2. I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, especially the first time I read it as a teenager. I reread it just a few years ago with my book club, and enjoyed the discussion of it. However, this is one I’ve never even heard of so I’ll need to add it to my list. As always, thank Carol!

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