Copyright 1967, 191 pages. From the book:
Seven years ago, Jean Thompson had a baby. She was a twenty-year-old college girl whose night with a married man threatened to wreck her life.
For nine months she lived in painful introspection and anonymity, the price of her refusal to involve her parents or the child's father in the most important decision of her life.
The House of Tomorrow is Jean Thompson's intimate diary of the months spent in a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers, faced with the ultimate moral decision: whether or not a mother has the right to keep her own child.
It is now 45 years since this story took place, and I don't know whether homes for unwed mothers still exist in the U.S. The social stigma of pregnancy out of wedlock is much less now, and abortion is far more available and accepted, at least by some. (Abortion is not the theme of this book; it is mentioned only in half a paragraph near the beginning.)
But pregnant women still face the same moral crisis, and Jean Thompson's story still rings true -- her fear of what others will think, and her desperate hiding from all except those in whom she has chosen to confide. Most of all, her struggle -- not, as the book blurb wrongly summarizes, to decide "whether a mother has the right to keep her own child" -- but to make the right choice for both her unborn child *and* herself. Thompson's dilemma is as real today, and her honesty as inspiring, as it was 45 years ago.
I first read The House of Tomorrow at around age 14, a few years after it was published. I just re-read it, at age 48, for the first time in at least 20 years, and I had forgotten how large a role this book played in my own moral development. I was raised in a liberal church that genuinely tried to be open about moral issues, but unwanted pregnancy -- indeed, anything about sexuality -- were still highly charged issues, and it was hard to get any sane guidance on those topics from any of the adults I knew.
The House of Tomorrow filled much of that need for me. Thompson tells her story plainly, without rationalization or self-justification -- and also without harsh self-judgment. She is rawly honest about the agonies of the consequences of her pregnancy, as well as about how she found the courage to make her choice.
This was the moral honesty and sanity I had sought, and The House of Tomorrow became the teacher I needed at that moment in my life. It also introduced me to Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, which became another stone in my moral and spiritual foundation.
Highly recommended, for pre-teens and older.