Source: the Author in exchange for an honest review
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer
Genre: Literary Fiction, Foodie, Contemporary
Pages: 317 (Hardback)
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“Elegant, sensual, surprising, and rich, Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots delivers a world to us, populated with indelible characters whose fates, as they become entwined, spur us to read fast, faster, except to do so would be to miss the beauty of Soffer’s language, which is to be savored.” — Dani Shapiro, author of Family History
This is a story about accepting the people we love—the people we have to love and the people we choose to love, the families we’re given and the families we make. It’s the story of two women adrift in New York, a widow and an almost-orphan, each searching for someone she’s lost. It’s the story of how, even in moments of grief and darkness, there are joys waiting nearby.
Lorca spends her life poring over cookbooks, making croissants and chocolat chaud, seeking out rare ingredients, all to earn the love of her distracted chef of a mother, who is now packing her off to boarding school. In one last effort to prove herself indispensable, Lorca resolves to track down the recipe for her mother’s ideal meal, an obscure Middle Eastern dish called masgouf.
Victoria, grappling with her husband’s death, has been dreaming of the daughter they gave up forty years ago. An Iraqi Jewish immigrant who used to run a restaurant, she starts teaching cooking lessons; Lorca signs up. Together, they make cardamom pistachio cookies, baklava, kubba with squash. They also begin to suspect they are connected by more than their love of food. Soon, though, they must reckon with the past, the future, and the truth—whatever it might be. Bukra fil mish mish, the Arabic saying goes. Tomorrow, apricots may bloom.
Meet Lorca, a self-destructive young teen who wants nothing more than a little love and attention from her parents, especially her mother. Lorca attempts to become indispensable by taking care of her mother, pouring over cookbooks for the perfect recipe and attempting to be a person her mother could love. Though she's willing to do anything for her mother, she's unable to restrain from her destructive behavior and her mother resolves to send her to boarding school. Lorca believes she has one last chance to avoid such a fate and signs up for cooking lessons in order to learn to cook a Middle Easter Dish for her mother. These lessons connect her with an Iraqi Jewish immigrant who has heartache and demons of her own.
This isn't a YA novel though a teen is the main character. This feels closer to literary fiction, but could simply be described as adult fiction.
Now. To the gushing. I loved this read. Lorca was a surprising character that made me think about a topic I had given very little thought. The description of her destructive behavior was vivid, eye-opening, and heart-breaking at the same time. I couldn't identify with her actions of her pain but I felt her pain. It was so palpable. Victoria, the Iraqi Jewish immigrant has suffered a recent loss that brings back an old loss. I found her story intriguing but I didn't identify with her either. I also found her story harder to follow. But both characters had distinct, separate voices. I was also surprised that the voices of Victoria's younger and older self were so clear and distinct. This book is so well-written.
I thought I was picking up a foodie book but this is so much more. I think it would be a great book club book.
Overall, the hunger for love by two distinct characters + foodie moments and cooking made this an impressive read. The wonderful writing was icing on the cake.