Maybe Tomorrow by Penny Parkes

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Maybe Tomorrow by Penny Parkes

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: This wasn't the light, romantic novel that I was expecting. It's something far more important and satisfying. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: June 2023
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471180156

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Sometimes, what you want is a light, romantic story. The last book by Penny Parkes that Bookbag had the pleasure of reviewing was Out of Practice, shortlisted for the Romantic Comedy Novel of 2017. Maybe Tomorrow is loved by Katie Fforde, the doyenne of romantic novelists. This would be my perfect, light, romantic read, wouldn't it? No - it wouldn't be. It would be something far, far better. Maybe Tomorrow is a serious look at a situation that restricts the potential of far too many people. And that's not just their loss - it's everyone's.

Jamie Matson works in an upper-class grocery store, for a man who's a control freak with all the subtlety of a half brick. Jamie's son, Bo, 'has his problems'. He's asthmatic and the more you read, the more you'll suspect that he's on the autistic spectrum. Sometimes Jamie needs to take time off at short notice - she's a frequent flier in the local A&E and sometimes Bo's not fit enough to go to school. Missed shifts or the need to be away on time to pick Bo up from school are occasions when Jamie can be controlled and put in the wrong. It was going to come to a head.

Their home is a similar problem. It's damp and mouldy - both trigger points for Bo's asthma but Jamie's landlord isn't inclined to spend the money to improve the flat. In fact, he's threatening to increase the rent to a level which Jamie can't afford, although he is prepared to come to an arrangement with Jamie to cover the increase. Unsurprisingly, the 'arrangement' involves sex.

Jammie's great shame is her need to use the local food bank but it's also going to be what saves her because this is where she meets the people who are in the same boat. They're the women who've been let down by the system: they're working so the help they're entitled to is minimal but they live their lives on the edge of failure. What they gradually realise is that together, they are strong and they can achieve more than they ever thought possible. They begin to appreciate the illusive difference between what they think they want and what they really need.

I read this book far too quickly. I admired Jamie but I fell in love with Bo, the quirky, gifted child, lucky enough to be with a mother who puts him before everything else. The characterisation is superb: everyone comes off the page fully clothed and days after I finished reading I was still wondering how they were doing. What I loved most, though, was that the solutions for all the women didn't involve a man stepping in to make everything miraculously right. Now that is good to read.

I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.

For more about food banks, we can recommend Food Bank Britain by Ray Barron Woolford.

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