Reading Room May 2013

3 of 15
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots
336 pages; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Lorca, the lonely teenager at the center of Jessica Soffer's emotional novel Tomorrow There WIll Be Apricots (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is a self-mutilator whose addiction to pain terrorizes her "like an angry wasp"; it's a poor substitute for the warmth her mother, Nancy, doesn't offer. Since their arrival in New York CIty, Nancy has been singularly focused on her flourishing career as a chef, and when Lorca is found cutting her thigh with a paring knife in the school bathroom and suspended, Nancy has no patience to spare. Desperate to find a way to connect with her mother, Lorca turns to the one thing she knows makes her happy: food. Lorca has long been adept at whipping up an omelet de fromage or pasta arrabbiata as salve to her mother's dark moods; now she determines to master her favorite dish: the Iraqi masgouf, a delicate fish concoction requiring intricate preparation. She enlists the help of Victoria, an Iraqi-Jewsish cooking instructor in mourning for her husband, and together the two embark on a journey that takes on a significance beyond their original mission, finding in each other the solace, nourishment and companionship they've both been missing. Soffer's breathtaking prose inter-weaves delectable descriptions of food with a profoundly redemptive story about loss, self-discovery, and acceptance. After seeing an old photo of her mother hiding the scars on her arm by folding it "into herself like a broken wing across her chest," Lorca realizes: "My mother was like made terrible, perfect sense."
— Abbe Wright