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Book Review: Tomorrows by James R. Brady Sr.

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Tomorrows is a novel that races through rural young America. It moves through locales in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Little Rock in the Arkansas Territory. It is about ordinary people. Two ordinary people whose paths cross at the start of this book.  

Edward Hunter, the main character, travels in a covered wagon through wild territory. As he guides his wagon he sees another wagon in the distance, and is glad to hear the sound of human voices.  

On this occasion he is to meet up with a woman and her destitute family. He does not know it yet, but he will alter and put his own journey on hold to offer assistance to this family. Tomorrows first finds the woman named Rhonda (described as beautiful but illiterate) has just prepared coffee and a meal for her family, while waiting for her husband who did not return from foraging and hunting for food in the nearby woods. She suspects that he may have met with foul play. After she meets this stranger they talk. She confides in him that her husband is long overdue back at camp.  

Edward offers to look for him. However, he soon discovers he has taken on more than he bargained for with a now-widowed mother and her three children. They are now bound because it seems that both have the same destination in mind: Little Rock, Arkansas. They believe they are going there for different reasons, but as the book unfolds, both discover they have more in common, including love, than they could have ever imagined.  

This 226-page book is set in the days of legends like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. This is what is so attractive about it. Tomorrows nicely weaves history and wilderness facts into the story. I looked forward to reading it every day in the quiet of my backyard.  It often reminded me of the research I had the opportunity to do on Abraham Lincoln and his family, Nancy Hanks Lincoln in particular. I found her short life and death fascinating. I wondered about their home life in Kentucky in the simple log cabin the family must have built, and reading Tomorrows gave me a chance to better imagine that ordinary life before little Abe became a Senator or a President.   

If you love Westerns and tales of wilderness you will like this book. As a teacher I especially see where it would be a good addition to the reading lists for students of all ages. Its audience is not children, but that does not mean it could not become a Western classic, easily used in any social studies classroom today. It is a well-written book that holds to Christian values befitting the times. It also points up the fact that there was not always law and order in the new America. Some territories had to make decisions based on the lack of a sheriff or deputy in the town or area. This would be a great source for research for students: how the land became connected to the law in colonial days. 

Here is the charm: real simple old West brought to life complete with a love story and a tale of provoked revenge for the wrongful death of Edward’s brother by a couple of evil twin brothers.   

The book by author James R. Brady Sr. weaves a straight-forward path toward revenge that leads to a simple struggle between good and evil. How good triumphs over evil here is not overdone, but happens in a way that is in keeping with the tone of this novel by Brady: taking life one step and one day at a time. 

The climax of this novel comes as the couple enters Little Rock. There is new evidence that awaits them in the form of additional evil deeds done by the Hogan twins: Edward wants to breathe a sigh of relief, but is really unsure about his “tomorrows.” However, when confronted with the twins, he knows what he must do despite the danger. 

While this book presents the reader with an enjoyable, quick summer read, it is not without its weaknesses. The main one is that of character development for the man and the woman in the story. We are not told why the woman speaks with a deep country vernacular, or why the hero of the story appears to be so well educated. In that sense they are opposites, and opposites generally do not attract. 

Finally, I think that Tomorrows makes many natural connections between invention and its necessity. We know, today, that we can just go to the store and get things as we need them. But what about when there were no general stores or large cities? I think it will make the adult reader think about this book long after reading it, and provoke critical thinking in younger readers.

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