20 Jun Maybe Tomorrow by Penny Parkes
Hope in hard times
I’m so delighted to be asked onto the blogtour for Penny Parkes’ new book. She is a thoughtful and insightful writer, and her stories, set in a life that often reflects our own, always carry a strong message for the reader.
Single mother Jamie Matson has fallen on hard times. Having lost her travel business during the recent pandemic, she’s living with 10-year-old son Bo in a squalid rented flat whose damp walls trigger Bo’s asthma to alarming degrees.
Her boss at the local deli has no sympathy. He wants her at work, earning her minimum wage – so poky in its paucity that Jamie and Bo frequently have to rely on the local foodbank.
It’s humiliating – but it could also be Jamie’s salvation, for the people she meets there fast become friends. Staff nurse Kath, whose husband fritters her hard-earned wages away, Bonnie, the entrepreneurial hairdresser and Amy, an unemployed teenager are just some of the people who help Jamie realise that there is no shame in poverty.
She has two unlikely saviours, too, in elderly Ruth and Henry Waverly, who offer her and Bo sanctuary in their granny annexe. All Jamie has to do in return is help them around the house.
As Jamie and her foodbank friends are drawn into Ruth and Henry’s life, an unlikely community blooms – one that can reach out and help each other with so much more than material needs.
Once the future looked bleak – maybe tomorrow it will be brighter.
This story explores real challenges
This is a very thoughtful story, exploring the very real challenges that face so many people in today’s economic climate.
It exemplifies that people may need to turn to food banks through no fault of their own, and explores how judgmental we as a society can be.
Jamie is a very strong character, despite being weighed down by her multiple worries of no money and no career prospects, Bo’s asthma and his neurodivergence which puts him in danger of being labelled and pigeon-holed– something she resists fiercely for her bright, articulate, artistic son.
She is very proud, and in some ways that is her flaw. In her own words she is always “braced for the worst in people and braced to be let down”. I found that very sad, and for me, it actually made her a less empathetic character. She is kind and loyal and caring, but that prickly exterior keeps you at arms’ length. She’s so afraid of being judged that she judges other people harshly.
Some, like her old boss and her lascivious landlord deserve it. But maybe the school headmaster does have Bo’s genuine interests at heart – allowing Bo to be assessed could open other doors to him.
Warmth and community
With such serious themes, the joy and the humour of this story are to be found in the little things that make up day-to-day life. They’re supplied by the more eccentric characters in the book – Henry, who is a highly-functioning autistic person and immediately bonds with Bo; Ruth, whose increasing forgetfulness leads her into scrapes; Amy, who sees no problem in calling her hairdressing salon “Crap But Cheap”; and finally Bo – a truly delightful boy, wise beyond his years in some ways, but in so many others a typical 10-year-old verging on adolescence with all the problems it brings. He sees – more clearly than Jamie perhaps – the best as well as the worst in people, and never allows the challenges of life to bring him down.
You won’t find many laugh-out-loud moments in this story, but there is plenty to warm your heart in the support that the characters offer each other, the friendships that are knitted through hardship and the message of hope that things can get better, if only we open or hearts and minds to the opportunities that come our way, however unlikely they seem.
Maybe Tomorrow by Penny Parkes is published by Simon & Schuster in paperback and ebook
About the Author
Penny Parkes, author of best-selling books, lives in the Cotswolds with her husband, two children and a geriatric spaniel. She will often be found plotting epic train journeys through the Alps, baking gluten-free goodies or attempting to prove that you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks.
Thanks to Sarah-Jade Virtue of Books and the City for inviting me on this blogtour and to publishers Simon & Schuster for the copy of the book.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster
More by this author