10.17.2014

Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots, by Jessica Soffer

Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots
Jessica Soffer's Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots turns on food and love and regret. Lorca Seltzer has learned to cook because it's the only way she can get her icy mother's approval. But she self-harms when her mother returns to her self-absorption. Victoria Shohet used to run a restaurant with her husband, Joseph, but that was many years ago. For the last few years, she has caring for Joseph as he died of cancer. She is completely lost when he passes.

Lorca and Victoria only meet through chance and a flyer posted by a busy-body neighbor. Lorca is caught cutting herself and school and is suspended. Her mother takes the school's recommendation to send her to a boarding school. But Lorca hopes that if she can make her mother's favorite dish, masgouf, she won't be sent away. It's heartbreaking to watch her struggle for the affections of a deeply selfish woman. With the help of a bookstore worker she has a crush on, Lorca finds the restaurant and the owners. Then she finds a flyer for Iraqi Jewish cooking taught by Victoria (not entirely willingly, because it wasn't her idea). The two connect over the traditional (and delicious sounding) recipes. 

If only it was that easy. If Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots was chick-lit, it would be. The characters would heal over tea and Iraqi cookies. Lorca's mother would realize how awful she's been to her daughter and would make amends. Victoria would come and live with them in a house full of warmth and wonderful smells. But this is not that book. Nothing is ever easy for Lorca or Victoria because they have so many regrets. Lorca frets about her mistakes with her mother. Victoria regrets the daughter she gave up for adoption years ago, which destroyed the growing bond she was building with Joseph. There's too much for them to suddenly get past. 

Tomorrow There Will be Apricots is not an easy book, and that's what I appreciated about it. Though Soffer makes a misstep (I think) by including two flashback chapters narrated by Joseph, this is a well thought out book. It has psychological veracity and depth—enough to make you want to reach through the book and crack fictional skulls, at times. I loved seeing Lorca find affection and validation outside her family. She deserves love from people who can give it without strings for a change. 

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