Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth
Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, one young girl is determined to save her brother from the draft--and gets help from an unlikely source--in this middle-grade tale, perfect for fans of The Wednesday Wars When eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly's mother passes away, she and her brothers are shipped off to live with their grandmother. Adjusting to life in her parents' Midwestern hometown isn't easy, but once Reenie takes up a paper route with her older brother Dare, she has something she can look forward to. As they introduce themselves to every home on their route, Reenie's stumped by just one--the house belonging to Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. When he doesn't answer his doorbell, Reenie begins to leave him letters. Slowly, the two become pen pals, striking up the most unlikely of friendships.Through their letters, Reenie tells of her older brother Billy, who might enlist to fight in the Vietnam War. Reenie is desperate to stop him, and when Mr. Marsworth hears this, he knows he can't stand idly by. As a staunch pacifist, Mr. Marsworth offers to help Reenie. Together, they concoct a plan to keep Billy home, though Reenie doesn't know Mr. Marsworth's dedication to her cause goes far beyond his antiwar beliefs.In this heartwarming piece of historical fiction, critically acclaimed author Sheila O'Connor delivers a tale of devotion, sacrifice, and family.

Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth Details

TitleUntil Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 3rd, 2018
PublisherG.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
ISBN-139780399161933
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth Review

  • Katie Fitzgerald
    January 1, 1970
    In the summer of 1968, Reenie Kelly has just moved to Lake Liberty, Minnesota. She has been going through a difficult time ever since her mom died from cancer. The family has very little money, so her father has had to leave the children - Reenie and her older brothers, Dare and Billy - in the care of their grandmother while he goes to North Dakota for a job building roads. Billy, who was meant to go to college, must now pump gas to earn money, and worse, he worries constantly about being drafte In the summer of 1968, Reenie Kelly has just moved to Lake Liberty, Minnesota. She has been going through a difficult time ever since her mom died from cancer. The family has very little money, so her father has had to leave the children - Reenie and her older brothers, Dare and Billy - in the care of their grandmother while he goes to North Dakota for a job building roads. Billy, who was meant to go to college, must now pump gas to earn money, and worse, he worries constantly about being drafted to serve in Vietnam. To raise money to possibly help Billy pay for college, Reenie and Dare share a paper route. Reenie, who is highly enthusiastic about having a job, goes out of her way to introduce herself at every house where she will deliver papers. Only Mr. Marsworth, a reclusive pacifist who has been ostracized by his neighbors for many years, does not respond when she rings his bell. Unwilling to remain strangers, Reenie begins writing letters to Mr. Marsworth. Though clearly overwhelmed by Reenie's unfettered affection for him, Mr. Marsworth writes replies every so often, and through this correspondence the unlikely pair devise strategies for keeping Billy safely out of Vietnam and bring to light the long-lost secret of the connection between their families.My first thought about this book, on the heels of reading P.S. I Miss You was "Not another novel told in letters!" I appreciate that Dear Mr. Henshaw was the favorite novel of a lot of people when they were kids, but that does not mean newer books should imitate its epistolary format. When Reenie sent her first letter, the explanation for her wanting to reach out to Mr. Marsworth did feel a little gimmicky, and I was worried that the book was going to be tedious to read all the way through. But then I read Mr. Marsworth's first reply to Reenie, and his character came right off the page, fully alive, after just a few sentences. I knew him already, and could clearly hear his voice, after just one letter. After that, I realized that gimmick or not, the format of the book was going to take a backseat to the hearts and souls of these characters and their connection.It was so refreshing to read a middle grade novel that felt purely like a children's book, with a quintessential middle grade protagonist. I think a lot of today's children's authors are caught up in politics and activism and as a result, strong adult feelings on a variety of topics come through in their writing. This book, while very much about both politics and activism truly does not seem to have any agenda aside from telling a compelling story. This book not only develops a friendship between two endearing characters; it also gives readers a taste of how Americans reacted to the war in Vietnam. It explains the concept of conscientious objection in a way kids can understand and it also shows how the older generation of the time thought about Vietnam in light of the events of World War II when they themselves were young. The author, or at least the story, certainly seems to have a point of view on the issue of war, but it is not forcibly crammed down the reader's throat nor are characters automatically vilified for taking a different outlook. Some characters behave badly; others behave well.My dad enlisted in the Air Force during the time period in which this book is set, and though he was not a conscientious objector who opposed war in all forms, he did protest to bombing villages where women and children would be killed, and refused to do so. I grew up hearing stories of how scared he was to stand up for what his conscience told him was right, and how much of a relief it was when he was given an honorable discharge instead of a court martial. I also remember there were still people in my hometown who considered him a coward even 25 years later when I was hearing these stories. This book was probably a bit more appealing to me because of this personal connection, but I also liked that it rang true with my father's experiences, suggesting to me that the author did her research and that she presents a reality-based view of the historical events that inform this novel.I also loved that the Kelly family was Catholic, but that Catholicism is not the main focus of the novel. It was interesting to hear the characters comparing the Quaker religion to the Catholic faith, and pleasing to me, as a Catholic parent, to see mention of the characters attending Mass as though it were a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to do. After the horrible negativity toward the Church that I encountered in P.S. I Miss You, it was nice to have a more positive portrayal, even though there are only a handful of Catholic references.There are a few minor issues in this book: the font is tiny, and there are no chapters to break up the letters into smaller groups. The book is also dauntingly long at first glance, though I was able to read it over the course of an afternoon and evening with several interruptions, thanks in part to Reenie's fun and appealing voice. I also have to point out that the publisher's comparison of this book to The Wednesday Wars is not the most apt. Both are set during the same time, and Vietnam provides the backdrop to both, but in every other way they are very different books. I enjoyed them both nearly equally, but I wouldn't necessarily suggest one as a read-alike for the other. Overall, though, Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth is an emotionally satisfying and completely child-friendly story about the effects of war on one family, and the importance of hope in the face of fear and adversity.This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Truly phenomenal! This is one of the best middle grade fiction novels I have ever read. I fell in love with Maureen "Reenie" Kelly at the outset. This is an epistolary novel that takes place during the summer of 1968. Eleven, soon to be twelve-year-old Reenie has moved with her two older brothers to live with their grandmother in Minnesota following the death of their mother. While Reenie's father labors in North Dakota, Reenie and her brother, Dare, share a paper route. What begins as a letter Truly phenomenal! This is one of the best middle grade fiction novels I have ever read. I fell in love with Maureen "Reenie" Kelly at the outset. This is an epistolary novel that takes place during the summer of 1968. Eleven, soon to be twelve-year-old Reenie has moved with her two older brothers to live with their grandmother in Minnesota following the death of their mother. While Reenie's father labors in North Dakota, Reenie and her brother, Dare, share a paper route. What begins as a letter to introduce herself to Mr. Marsworth, a customer along her route, becomes a series of letters, sometimes several per day, left in his box. The friendship that develops between the town hermit and one very determined young girl alters both of their lives in surprising ways.This coming-of-age gem masterfully deals with the effects of the Vietnam War's mandatory draft and brings into question what courage really entails. Charming, heartfelt, funny, and absorbing, this book well earns its five star rating.
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  • Katy Budget Books
    January 1, 1970
    Abby says: Easily my favourite children's book of 2018 to date, "Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth" is a treasure trove of truths, stories, friends, and history. 11 year papergirl Reenie Kelly is our beloved heroine who becomes penpals with urban hermit Mr. Marsworth. Attempting to save her eldest brother from the Vietnam draft, Reenie fills her letters with questions and stories of peace, Vietnam, and struggles. A heroine who fights her own fights and eventually lays down her arms in the name of pe Abby says: Easily my favourite children's book of 2018 to date, "Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth" is a treasure trove of truths, stories, friends, and history. 11 year papergirl Reenie Kelly is our beloved heroine who becomes penpals with urban hermit Mr. Marsworth. Attempting to save her eldest brother from the Vietnam draft, Reenie fills her letters with questions and stories of peace, Vietnam, and struggles. A heroine who fights her own fights and eventually lays down her arms in the name of peace, Reenie Kelly stole my heart and I sincerely hope she steals yours as well.
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  • J.S.
    January 1, 1970
    I was sucked in by the comparison to Gary D. Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars, one of the absolute best MG/YA books out there. The only similarity however, seems to be the Vietnam War time frame. The storyline is that eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly and her brothers have been left in the care of their stern grandmother following the death of their mother, while their father is in North Dakota (or somewhere like that) working. Reenie manages to land a paper route and takes an interest in reclusive old M I was sucked in by the comparison to Gary D. Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars, one of the absolute best MG/YA books out there. The only similarity however, seems to be the Vietnam War time frame. The storyline is that eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly and her brothers have been left in the care of their stern grandmother following the death of their mother, while their father is in North Dakota (or somewhere like that) working. Reenie manages to land a paper route and takes an interest in reclusive old Mr. Marsworth, whom she never sees or even has a real conversation with. Instead, she pesters him with letters - and that's the format of the book: letters back and forth between them - mostly hers, telling about her troubles. So, she's intrusive and pushy and he's standoffishly crabby - neither one is likable. She's worried about her older brother going to Vietnam to fight, and Mr. Marsworth has apparently been ostracized from the town for his pacifist stance. The story sounded worthwhile but I really didn't like the epistolary style of storytelling. In fact, my daughter snatched it up and just as quickly put it back down when she saw the format inside. So, I'm a DNF right now, stopping short of 100 pages. Maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance? Other reviewers seem to be raving about it so far. Well, if I bother to pick it up again I'll update my review, but for now... DNF. (I rec'd an ARC from Amazon Vine.)
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  • Lizz Axnick
    January 1, 1970
    This book was wonderful and sad at the same time. The book is reminiscent for me of Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw, in that it is a series of letters between our protagonist, Reenie (short for Maureen) and H.W. Marsworth, a recluse on her paper route that she strikes up a pen pal relationship with. The book is set with the backdrop of Vietnam, which I wonder how much the target audience for this book will relate to. However, I could not put the book down and found myself looking forward to re This book was wonderful and sad at the same time. The book is reminiscent for me of Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw, in that it is a series of letters between our protagonist, Reenie (short for Maureen) and H.W. Marsworth, a recluse on her paper route that she strikes up a pen pal relationship with. The book is set with the backdrop of Vietnam, which I wonder how much the target audience for this book will relate to. However, I could not put the book down and found myself looking forward to reading it when I had the time. I thought the author makes a lot of great points in the story, such as why was the U.S. even involved in Vietnam (no one can come up with a reason in the story), how the draft affected the youth of the late 60s, the peace marches and the jailing of draft evaders. All of this is important history and it is delivered in a clever storyline with engaging characters. I don't want to give away too much of the plot but there are a few surprises tucked within the storyline that I enjoyed. What a beautifully written story of friendship. Ms. O'Connor should be commended for her ingenuity of delving into history but making it fun. This is definitely a book I will read again.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    Purchased copyReenie, her father, and her brothers Billy and Dare move from Missouri to live with their grandmother in Minnesota in 1968 because their mother's cancer treatments bankrupted the family. Reenie and her brothers all have jobs, and they are saving up to pay for Billy's college tuition at the University of Missouri so that he can be deferred from the draft. It's unusual for a girl to have a paper route, even with her brother, so local thugs Rat and Cutler give her a hard time, but she Purchased copyReenie, her father, and her brothers Billy and Dare move from Missouri to live with their grandmother in Minnesota in 1968 because their mother's cancer treatments bankrupted the family. Reenie and her brothers all have jobs, and they are saving up to pay for Billy's college tuition at the University of Missouri so that he can be deferred from the draft. It's unusual for a girl to have a paper route, even with her brother, so local thugs Rat and Cutler give her a hard time, but she gives as good as she gets, which only escalates their feud. One of Reenie's customers is Mr. Marsworth, but he will not answer his bell. Reenie starts leaving him lengthy letters, and he returns brief, typewritten letters in response. He encourages Reenie to go to the library, make friends with another new girl on the street, and eventually, to go to the beach near the lake house he owns to give her something to do. She still persists in writing, especially when she finds out that Mr. Marsworth was a conscientious objector during WWI, and she will try anything to keep Billy from going to Vietnam. With the encouragement of her new pen pal, Reenie has her brother write a letter to the newspaper, visit a center to help him with his application, and apply to a Quaker college Mr. Marsworth attended. As the summer wears on, Billy's situation becomes more pressing, the family must make plans for the future, and secrets from the past are revealed.Strengths: This is an interesting topic, and one which I am very happy to see represented in literature. Aside from Kurlansky's Battle Fatigue, and Qualey's Hometown (M.E. Kerr's Slap Your Sides is WWII) I can't think of another book that does. There are lots of good descriptions of every day life in 1968, and the letter format makes sense within the context. I liked that the plight of the conscientious objector in several other conflicts was addressed. The family secret caught me by surprise, but made sense and was resolved in an interesting way. Weaknesses: There is a lot going on in this book, which dilutes the central message. I could have done without the mother's death or the bullying from the local thugs, and Reenie would have done well to learn from Mr. Marsworth's brevity. Her "handwriting" was somewhat wearing to read.What I really think: This will be a popular choice for the 1960s unit our seventh grade does, and will get checked out a bit more frequently than other titles about this time period because of the appealing cover.
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  • Dawn
    January 1, 1970
    This artfully done story about spunky 11-year-old Maureen (Reen or Reenie) Kelly and her blossoming friendship (via the pen/typewriter) with an elderly man on her paper route, takes place in 1968 during the Vietnam War and is told through letters - mostly Reenie's, though some are Mr. Marsworth's, and some letters are told in the voice of another of Reenie's pen pals, Skip, a young soldier serving in Vietnam.The letters do a great job of giving not just the writer of the letter, but others descr This artfully done story about spunky 11-year-old Maureen (Reen or Reenie) Kelly and her blossoming friendship (via the pen/typewriter) with an elderly man on her paper route, takes place in 1968 during the Vietnam War and is told through letters - mostly Reenie's, though some are Mr. Marsworth's, and some letters are told in the voice of another of Reenie's pen pals, Skip, a young soldier serving in Vietnam.The letters do a great job of giving not just the writer of the letter, but others described in the letter, a voice and personality. I didn't think a letter could bring color and life to such crazy events and happenings (and such flair and intrigue to a family mystery), but the letters are well-written yet realistic.Reenie wants to save her oldest brother, Billy, from the draft and from dying in Vietnam. Mr. Marsworth, an elderly recluse, is who Reenie chooses to confide her fears, plans, questions, and hopes. Billy, 18, would like to attend college, but the family does not have much money (for reasons you will read about). The questions of patriotism and what it means, and of the draft and if a person should have the right to refuse to serve, and even of a person's right to free speech without fearing major consequences, are all well explored. What happens when family members disagree about war? There are no easy or "right" answers, though there is plenty to think about. People in the town one might expect would help, prove hostile, while unexpected friends and allies show up in all kinds of places. This book has a nice range and depth of topics to discuss and explore, and it's written with an adventurous as well as a warm and caring pen. Well worth the time to read.
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  • SundayAtDusk
    January 1, 1970
    I obviously didn't fall in love with this story the way so many other reviewers did. My main problem with it is protagonist Reenie didn't seem or sound like an 11-year-old back in 1968 a good deal of the time. What 11-year-old would have started and continued writing long letters to a man she had never met on her paper route? Even when he clearly tells her in notes that he does not want a pen pal, and she needs to seek company her own age, she still persist writing letter after letter after lett I obviously didn't fall in love with this story the way so many other reviewers did. My main problem with it is protagonist Reenie didn't seem or sound like an 11-year-old back in 1968 a good deal of the time. What 11-year-old would have started and continued writing long letters to a man she had never met on her paper route? Even when he clearly tells her in notes that he does not want a pen pal, and she needs to seek company her own age, she still persist writing letter after letter after letter. (The entire story is told in letters.)Her desire to keep her brother Billy out of Vietnam also seemed quite obsessive for a girl her age. Yes, she had lost her mother, and her father was working out of state, but I felt it was totally unrealistic for a girl her age to be so persistent in the matter, like a worried parent. (And not even like a parent back in the 1960s, but like a helicopter parent of today!) In addition, when she talks about family love and such in her letters to Mr. Marsworth, Reenie sometimes sounds like a 50-year-old.Don't get me wrong, it's not that I think this story has no value, or was not interesting at times. It's just that I think it was written mainly to educate contemporary children about what life was like for some families during the Vietnam War era; as well as educate them about the pacifism practiced by those belonging to historical peace churches, such as the Quakers. Author Sheila O'Connor did an excellent job doing that, too, but the characters take a backstage to those history lessons, in my opinion. Rennie is more of a mouthpiece much of the time in this story, than a real 11-year-old girl back in 1968 worried about the Vietnam War.(Note: I received a free ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.)
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  • Angela Riley
    January 1, 1970
    So I got this book as a pre-release with the hopes that I could use it for historical fiction book clubs. It is set up all in letters between a girl and an elderly man on her paper route. They strike up a pen pal relationship as she tells him about the possibility of her brother being drafted into Vietnam. I started out really liking the book and was excited to see a story about Vietnam. However, I felt like the book really started to drag. I was kinda getting bored and wanted it to end. Since i So I got this book as a pre-release with the hopes that I could use it for historical fiction book clubs. It is set up all in letters between a girl and an elderly man on her paper route. They strike up a pen pal relationship as she tells him about the possibility of her brother being drafted into Vietnam. I started out really liking the book and was excited to see a story about Vietnam. However, I felt like the book really started to drag. I was kinda getting bored and wanted it to end. Since it was a pre-release copy I'm hoping they trimmed it down. But it was still a good book. My 2 students who read it liked it and I think it would be a good one to give to kids as it provided a different point of view and was an appropriate middle level book
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    In this thought-provoking story told entirely in letters, eleven-year old Reenie Kelly is determined to save her brother from the Vietnam War draft. This is also a story of unlikely friendship as Reenie writes letters to a recluse who lives on her paper route. This book gives insight into the conflict occurring during the time period while also telling a story about family.
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  • Celeste
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. I loved this sweet book that takes place during the Vietnam War. The main character is a chatty, adorable girl who starts up a pen pal correspondence with an elderly neighbor on her paper route. She stole my heart and it was an interesting look at the people who wanted to be pacifists during the war. Great read.
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  • Nichole Midgett
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful.
  • Tina Hoggatt
    January 1, 1970
    I was drawn in and rooting for Reenie Kelly as she lands in the small town where her recently deceased mother grew up. Her father leaves town to find work to pay off medical bills and her strict grandmother's rules are strict and different from those she grew up with. Set during the Vietnam War, the book is a funny, heartbreaking, and thoughtful exploration of the issues surrounding that conflict that were at play in America during that time.Reenie picks up a paper route and begins the correspon I was drawn in and rooting for Reenie Kelly as she lands in the small town where her recently deceased mother grew up. Her father leaves town to find work to pay off medical bills and her strict grandmother's rules are strict and different from those she grew up with. Set during the Vietnam War, the book is a funny, heartbreaking, and thoughtful exploration of the issues surrounding that conflict that were at play in America during that time.Reenie picks up a paper route and begins the correspondence with Mr. Marsworth, a recluse on her route, that makes up the book. As she becomes increasingly concerned about her beloved older brother Billy and the likelihood that he will be drafted she and Mr. Marsworth, a conscientious objector during WWII, talk over ways to get Billie to college and out of harm's way. Letters from Reenie's pen pal in Vietnam illustrate the disillusionment of the fighting force in Vietnam and remind of what is at stake for Billie. A family mystery, opposition from the town and her own family, and the dawning conscience of both Reeny and Billy move the book along to its surprising and affecting conclusion. I loved this book. The repetition of questions in the letters as a device wore on me at times but the young reader will embrace this as voice. Reenie and the whole Kelly family will endure for me as characters. I hope we get more letters from her home front.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    Books that make me cry pretty much automatically get five stars from me. I love: epistolary novels, historical fiction, plucky tween girl protagonists, grumpy old men who have their grumpy exteriors softened by the persistence of the plucky tween girl protagonists, etc. I read Okay for Now shortly after I finished this and they both cover similar themes, especially the devastation of war both on active soldiers and on those soldiers when they return from duty. And they are both incredibly moving Books that make me cry pretty much automatically get five stars from me. I love: epistolary novels, historical fiction, plucky tween girl protagonists, grumpy old men who have their grumpy exteriors softened by the persistence of the plucky tween girl protagonists, etc. I read Okay for Now shortly after I finished this and they both cover similar themes, especially the devastation of war both on active soldiers and on those soldiers when they return from duty. And they are both incredibly moving and surprising and made me cry, so, five stars all around.
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