This is my symphony

What I read & what I lived …

Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots (NetGalley)
Jessica Sofer
release date: April 26, 2013

Leaving is the easy part, I wanted to tell her. It’s moving on that one gets mired in. It takes year. Decades, actually. It takes tragedy and drama and the most painful part: the haunting feeling of what’s lost when it finally starts hurting less. 

The publisher’s blurb for this soon-to-be-released novel by Jessica Sofer states, Two women adrift in New York—an Iraqi Jewish widow and the latchkey daughter of a chef—find each other, solace, and a new kind of family through their shared love of cooking.” Oh my goodness–everything I love in a story: a spunky granny, a winsome teen, a faraway place, and food. But what I got was so much more than a feel good read. 

Lorca’s life is anything but perfect. Her mother, preoccupied with her high-pressure life as a chef, is as distant and warm as the polar ice cap. Lorca’s father, probably an alcoholic, is absent. And right before winter break, Lorca’s school counselor suggests a boarding school. Because Lorca is a cutter. With that plot twist, I almost turned the novel aside. As a high school teacher for many years, I’ve had more than a few girls who have self-injured. I’ve spoken to their counselors, I’ve even spoken to the girls in a few instances. And I don’t understand it. At all. But I saw Lorca’s imperfect life mirrored in her cuts, bruises, and scars in an almost eloquent (albeit painful) way. Like many children dying for a parent’s recognition (if not love), Lorca never stops trying to win her mother over. And that’s how Victoria comes into the story. 

Victoria and her husband Joseph once ran a successful Iraqi restaurant. Just days after Joseph’s death she agrees to teach a small cooking class in her apartment–and up turns Lorca, searching for the recipe for a dish that she’d overheard her mother praising: masgouf, the national dish of Iraq. Victoria has her own bruises and scars. She left war-torn Iraq during a revolution; she witnessed the public hanging of her uncle, and most likely other atrocities. Her adjustment to immigrant life in New York was less than smooth, made even more difficult by an unexpected pregnancy. VIctoria’s life with Joseph was never the same after the birth of the daughter she could not keep. 

In only a couple cooking classes, Victoria and Lorca think they’ve found  in the other the answers to all their painful questions. And I worried Sofer would take the easy way out of her plot tangles. It will be for you to see if she did or not. But in the end, I saw both women–young and old–still painfully making their way through life–a little bit more tender perhaps, a little stronger, but moving on. 

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