Lauren Hudson was 13 years old when she wrote Our Best Tomorrow, a novel about three young people chasing the American Dream. The story follows friends Adelaide, Isabella, and Jake on their journey to amazing success made possible by our nation’s system of free enterprise, which Lauren’s father and coauthor Robert Hudson explains through lessons about market capitalism, inserted in italics throughout the story.
Although I don’t read many novels, I could not put this one down. I thoroughly enjoyed watching three young people experience the normal trials of life through elementary and high school and on to college and beyond. Though written in 2013, this book can be read today as a celebration of recent political changes that have given free enterprise a new lease on life in America. With a different result in the past election, this book would now have to be read as a requiem for a once-great nation.
Former president Ronald Reagan once said a nation is successful “only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in benefiting from their success—only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free.” The experiences of the characters in this book exemplify the great opportunities only a free enterprise system can offer.
Don’t get the idea Our Best Tomorrow reads like a textbook. It’s anything but dry. I laughed and cried as I read it, and when I finished it, the first thing I did was go back and read its 203 pages again. The character studies are amazing: Jake, the jock with unexpected humanity; Adelaide, a beguiling beauty made uneasy by her heavy French accent; and Isabella, a friendless nerd. The characters rely on each other to exhibit their independence as they approach college, where ultimately they must part.
For All Ninth Graders
It took me a while to determine the grade level at which students should read this wonderful book about the trials and tribulations of growing up in the United States and the beauty of American exceptionalism. I finally decided it belongs on every ninth grade reading list.
As we follow the three young adults, it becomes clear the nation’s free enterprise system encourages each of them to strive to improve in their individual pursuits. They all seek more education, formal or otherwise, and learn to work smarter to earn more to invest in their futures. Happiness is always a result of their taking advantage of the freedom to pursue their dreams.
Lauren, at thirteen years of age, already knew there can be something big at the end of the rainbow for each of us who gives full rein to his or her unique American spirit. Adelaide, Jake, and Isabella share an innate sense that the harder they work in the field they choose, the more likely their success will match their dreams.
For Jake, that field is computer programming; for Adelaide, clothing design; and for Isabella, it’s engineering. The reader learns a little about each of the young people’s chosen professions and the hurdles they face along the way.
Who Pays the Taxes?
The authors identify and illustrate some of the difficulties businesses face from our national and state governments. Eventually, all three characters reunite in Kentucky because business rules are less onerous there. We learn a great deal about government, including the fact governments tend to be anti-business in practice, as they seem not to understand the taxes from successful businesses are what support governments and their employees.
Some people who work for government do important jobs, but where do they think the money comes from to pay their salaries? This disconnect is difficult to understand. We should expect everyone employed in productive work to love a free enterprise system. Obviously, that is not so, and this book can help correct such misconceptions.
‘Rooting for Everybody’
Robert Hudson uses his daughter’s story to teach readers about the value of free enterprise better than almost any college economics 101 course could. In a free market, he tells us, poverty isn’t caused by other people’s wealth. When people do well in business, they can hire more people. He writes, “The next time you hear someone criticize people because they have money, consider telling them, ‘We should be rooting for everybody. That’s when America is at its best.'”
One of the main characters in the story enters politics with a platform almost identical to what President Donald Trump offered as a candidate. One might be tempted to accuse the authors of plagiarism were it not that they got there first. The plan the character offers is actually an echo of our Founding Father James Madison, who said, in effect, if people are free, they will find their way to the right choices and become far more productive than if even the best government were to tell them what to do.
We may not get this book into our schools any time soon—they’re largely run by governments, after all—but you can make a difference by buying it for all your high-school children, grandchildren, and friends’ children.
Jay Lehr, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is science director at The Heartland Institute.