Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: April 16th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Debut, Fiction
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Tomorrow there will be Apricots is a portrait in sadness, the kind inflicted by others and the kind brought on by self. Lorca is a 14-year-old girl who is trying to gain the attention of her distant mother, who is a chef, and so turns to Victoria, an Iraqi woman who once owned a popular restaurant in the neighborhood and is now offering cooking classes. Her husband has recently died and she is haunted by his loss and their past. Lorca signs up for the class and when the two meet there is the tentative sensation of familiarity and recognition. They begin to cook together and enough of each one’s story comes out that, while their fear leaves them stilted and closed, their hearts begin to open.
It is author Jessica Soffer’s prose, so precise yet poetic, that gives clarity to the book’s sadness. For Lorca the only pleasure she finds is in hurting herself and as each attempt brings no response from her icy mother, she goes further, until her body, and even her scalp, is a roadmap of the pain of loneliness. For Victoria, it is a different kind of lack. Her insecurity was such that when she became pregnant she was certain a child would derail not only all of their plans for life in America but would steal her husband’s love away. Using her husband’s love and her own willpower she convinces him that it is best to give the child up for adoption when it is born. For decades she has been living with this decision and its impact on her marriage.
The actions of Lorca and Victoria are painful reading of the kind that makes one’s heart ache. They are, in large part, unfathomable. But now, brought together by the most innocuous of circumstances, they come to believe that they are related. For Victoria
And that’s what love is, I suppose. The one thing that is most worth hoping for, and the one thing that’s most surprising when it lands. Because it’s better. It exceeds hope, making hoping nearsighted. For me, and forever, Lorca was the world’s evidence of love.
and Lorca begins to allow herself to believe that pain may not be the way to win love.
But now, after I did it, I still felt all wrong. I still felt responsible. It occurred to me that it had nothing to do with loss. My whole life, I’d been trying to fill an empty space, to feel full, complete—but I could only ever feel less empty. And even then, only for a moment—because, though the pain filled the emptiness, it was the emptiness too.
Tomorrow there will be Apricots is not a fairytale and just when it seems things are going to be neatly resolved, Soffer reminds us that life doesn’t work that way. What is expected is not so, and people revert to the behaviors they know. The book, like life, is messy and unpredictable and does not go the way the reader may want, but it is powerful and true and ultimately, beautiful.
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