10 December 2012

Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman

Meet Erin. Smart student, great daughter, better friend. Secretly the mastermind behind the popular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. Totally unaware that her carefully constructed life is about to get crazy.

It all begins when her ex-best friend sends a letter to her blog—and then acts on her advice. Erin’s efforts to undo the mess will plunge her into adventure, minor felonies, and possibly her very first romance.

What’s a likely fortune for someone no longer completely in control of her fate? Hopefully nothing like: You will become a crispy noodle in the salad of life.

I picked up Miss Fortune Cookie in response to seeing it everywhere -- on blogs, on people's profile picture, on Goodreads status updates.  Out of sheer irritation, I looked it up to see what the heck all the commotion was about, and I was surprised to see that it looked like a very promising, cute book.  I immediately checked it out from my local library and buzzed in anticipation for the moment when I would finally be able to read it.  It was worth the wait.  Miss Fortune Cookie won me over with its instantly likable main character, Erin, and the passion behind the presentation of Chinese-American culture.  But what really got me was that it felt true.

Truth in fiction may seem, at first, to be a bit of a paradox.  Readers will tell you, however, that fiction is the best gateway to the truth.  Miss Fortune Cookie, despite its...creative elimination of swear words (s***!), felt like something that could really happen in a way that differentiated itself to me from other contemporary novels.  There was something there that really connected with me.  Maybe it was the nerdiness of Erin in the way she compacted truths down to equations, or the love for her family and culture, or struggling with college choices.  Whatever it was, there was a shard of truth there, and it resonated with me.

I think what won me over wholly, though, was the main character, Erin.  I loved her innocently sarcastic and self-deprecating narrative, as well as her sarcastic and self-deprecating humor.  And although she had some dim moments, don't we all?  Things that generally irked me about a character made me love Erin all the more.

Lack of passion in a novel is the bane of my existence, but Lauren Bjorkman has passion in spades.  From the details that neatly frame Erin's tiny, shoebox apartment to the way Bjorkman carefully crafted Mrs. Liu's speech, I could sense the painstaking effort and heart that went behind the story.  It made the exotic culture of Chinese-American lifestyles to come through loud and clear for me.  (Also, I got a kick out of the presentation of Asian stereotypes that happen to be very true.  One of my good friends from high school is Asian, and would probably get a real kick out of this book.)

With the humor, charming cultures, and wacky adventures, Miss Fortune Cookie is a real gem of young adult contemporary literature.  And at just under three hundred pages, it's a short, fun read for anyone who wants a good story.

Quotes
The three of us -- Mei, Linny, and me -- made up an enviable friendship trio.  I was the lesser third, maybe because Mei and Linny were gorgeously Chinese-American, while I was just Boring-American.  A Person of Irish.
Erin + cute boys = Inevitable + disaster
Book Info

  • pages - hardcover, 288
  • published - November 2012
  • publisher - Henry Holt and Co.
  • genre - contemporary fiction
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 5/5