Sophie Jones spends her life tethered to the past by a horrible accident that happened twenty years ago on her ninth birthday. In a multi-vehicle collision, her parents and grandmother were killed, along with another driver. She believes she was the cause of the accident, by having distracting her father.
Sophie went through several foster homes before ending up in a good situation with Ellen, a warm, African American woman who works in police dispatch and who comforted Sophie the night of the accident. Her half-Latina foster sister, Evi, is now her best friend.
Sophie has no man in her life, since her former fiancé, Garrett Black, broke up with her just two weeks before their wedding without explaining why. This most recent disaster almost a year ago was ironically good for her business, however. At her confectionary, Chocolat’ de Soph, she began making and selling fortune cookies dipped in bittersweet chocolate and filled with handwritten messages that provide “a dose of reality.” (Examples: “Your job seems secure now, but have patience. Nothing lasts forever!” or “Is It love or pity? Try not to dwell on it.”) Called “misfortune cookies,” they are wildly popular.
Garrett comes into the shop on Sophie’s birthday, bringing flowers, and wanting to talk to her and tell her what happened last year and why he left. She agrees on one condition. If he places a want ad in the paper for happiness, and gets one hundred people to respond “with something intelligent,” she will agree to meet with him. And so Garrett places the ad: “Wanted: Happiness. Please help me find what I’ve lost. Lasting happiness only, please. Nothing that fleets.”
Evaluation: This story is somewhat reminiscent of “Miracle on 34th Street” mixed in with “An Affair to Remember” and “Sleepless in Seattle.” The author, who wrote The Paper Bag Christmas (which I thought was excellent) writes a little like Cecelia Ahern. It’s a sweet book, and notably includes an appealing character with Down’s Syndrome, a terrific addition. I feel confident of being pleased with anything this author creates.
Published by Center Street, 2010