Tomorrow there will be Apricots

Tomorrow there will be Apricots

Author: Jessica Soffer

14 year old Lorca is obsessed with reading cooking books in an attempt to win the love and respect of her mother Nancy, an icy chef who grieves the death of her husband. Lorca struggles with her mother’s uncaring nature and cooks the most delicious sounding treats in attempt to woo and prevent her from sending her to a private school. The reason for this is because Lorca was caught harming herself in her school bathroom, and in turn was suspended. The girl’s aim is to track down a recipe for Masgouf, a traditional Mesopotamian dish, to please her mother who once said it was the most delicious dish she ever tasted. The search for this recipe leads Lorca to Victoria, an old Iraqi-Jewish immigrant dealing with her husband’s death, who agrees to teach her how to make the dish. 

The book transfers between Victoria and Lorca’s first-person voice with each chapter, triggering my curiosity about what is to happen next. There is a major focus on the trouble of emotions and how unspoken feelings can lead to bitter outcomes. The book is set in New York, emphasizing the contrast in culture Lorca and her mother feel living there. An array of food-related metaphors and similes are involved, (for example, “I had a lump in my throat the size of a bundt cake pan.” Love). The mention of Cardamon Pistachio Cookies, Baklava and Kubba with squash hurts to read as a simple student who lives on cereal alone, so ensure you read on a full stomach. 

This is a gorgeous first novel by Jessica Soffer, and an important one for women, focusing on relationships between mother and daughter in an ‘unconventional’ way, considering the natural bond that is always shown between mothers and daughters in fiction and film. This is a refreshing look into people separate from a conventional standard of female relationships. The people in the novel begin in the crux of their difficulties and work hard to cope with them. 

At some points the plot is predictable and the simplicity of writing bothered me at times, but the characters are so intimately offered to the reader that this doesn’t seem a problem. For example, during the struggle Lorca faces with self harm, the writer does not gush about her background and why she is doing it, but transports us into the body of Lorca with the girl’s own thoughts. The interest lies in the relationships and feelings of the three women, all of whom are struggling, all of whom are rich and complex. I find the treatment of Nancy a little too one sided - Soffer tends to portray her in a complicated way, making me almost hate her if it weren’t for her troubled situation. I feel like her character would be the go-to for a high school essay. 

The title, I believe, sadly links to the relationship between Nancy and Lorca. ‘Tomorrow, apricots may bloom’ is an Arabic saying. From what I read up, it refers to a promise of something that’s never gonna happen. Overall the novel examines the difference between family members who are tied by blood and the ones who are chosen. It is smoothly written, engaging and comfortable to slip into. A touching tale that made me hungry.

This article first appeared in Issue 8, 2016.
Posted 1:08pm Sunday 24th April 2016 by Jessica Thompson.