A Poets & Writers “New and Noteworthy Book”
A Loan Stars January 2022 Adult Top Ten Pick
“At its heart, this is a story about the deep ties of real and true friendships, one at its end and the other just beginning.” —Tessa Terry, Booklist
“A New Jersey woman tries to understand how she stumbled upon a parallel universe after losing her best friend in Goudarzi’s exquisite and magical debut.” —Publishers Weekly
“A beautiful, strange, shape-shifting novel about the movement of grief and longing, The Almond in the Apricot had me at Emma’s first dream of Lily and didn’t let go. Sara Goudarzi has written a wonderful and compelling novel, made all the more astonishing by the fact that it is her first. I loved it.” —Ethan Rutherford, author of Farthest South & Other Stories and The Peripatetic Coffin
"The Almond in the Apricot is a dazzling meditation on loss and the power of connection. Truly, I can't think of a more perfect story for our time." —Heather Harper Ellett, author of Ain’t Nobody Nobody
“The Almond in the Apricot is brimful of mystery and longing, a page-turner that derives its suspense from vast and resonant questions about the layers of the self and of the world. Movingly, Sara Goudarzi’s debut novel plumbs the depths of grief, desire, and love.” —Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson"A rocket of a read—a propulsive and explosive ride. I love it when a novel manages to be this smart and this gripping at the same time. In The Almond in the Apricot, two lives come together across time and space to form one hell of a story. Sara Goudarzi’s impressive debut shows she’s one to watch, and one to read.” —Mat Johnson, author of Pym and Loving Day
A grieving young woman experiences intense episodic dreams that she believes may be an alternate reality.
The story opens with two distinct points of view: Emma is a 29-year-old designer of sewer systems in New Jersey. Lily is an 11-year-old girl living with Mom and Dad in Touran, a fictional conflict zone with frequent and frightening nighttime air raids. As the story progresses, it's revealed that Emma and Lily aren't distinct personalities but are rather linked in some way by Emma's vivid dreams. At first, the connections manifest in sleepwalkinglike incidents for Emma. Later, elements of Lily's life—a geranium, a birthday cake, chess games, apricot trees, breath mints, and hopscotch—pop up as references in Emma's waking world. Emma gradually begins to suspect that Lily may be not a dream but another dimension of time or space. She hooks up with physicist Kerr Jacobs, who reminds her of her best friend Spencer, to investigate whether that's possible. Kerr assures her, repeatedly, that it's not. Emma's prolonged grief at Spencer's death, her romantic triangle with Jacobs and Peter, her minimally acceptable boyfriend, and Lily's sweet summer romance with Nima, the son of her parents' friends, add emotional depth. A banal subplot involving Emma' boss, Charlie, her professional competition with her lunch buddy, Tina, and a sewer system at a new housing development feels disconnected from Emma's and Lily's stories. The central question of whether Emma's dreams are real sustains the intrigue to a satisfying, faster-paced conclusion.
An is-it-real-or-is-it-a-dream story with a lot to like but little to love.