Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: November 12, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: senior year, San Francisco, Chinese culture, friendships, blogging
Format read: ARC paperback from a friend.
Summary: Three best friends living in San Francisco are dealing with college acceptance letters, secret boyfriends, mysterious online identities, old grudges, and how they can move forward and still keep their bond in tact.
Miss Fortune Cookie was such a pleasant surprise for many reasons but here are a few that stood out:
- It talked about how to deal with the challenges of threesome friendships in a way where each girl had a different (and well-established connection) with each other. (This is so rare.)
- The challenges of choosing colleges especially when you want to stay close to your best friends and aren’t ready to make that leap out of your comfort zone quite yet.
- Great insight into the Chinese culture. It was so unique to have a character like Erin who embraced the culture so much (she was born in China) and wanted to officially be a part of it.
- Realistic portrayal of the internet. Erin secretly blogs as “Miss Fortune Cookie”, dispensing advice to those who ask and I loved the backstory of how her blog gradually rose to fame.
Okay, so let me set it up. Erin, Mei, and Linny are all best friends except Erin and Mei aren’t as close as they used to be because of some unfinished drama back in elementary school. They never talked it through, were reunited thanks to Linny, and while Erin copes, she is hesitant about trusting Mei with her heart again. Fair enough.
I really liked this look at friendships. It’s hard to be in a threesome because at different parts in your life, one person is always closer to another. Bjorkman does another thing really well. She shows the reader how much of these girls has an individual relationship with the other, which (I think) is so important for a threesome to keep on surviving. (So many of my friendships are based on threesomes so I can relate.)
These girls are dealing with so much: obligations to their parents, college acceptances, secret romances, wanting to lose their virginity, not having money all the time (Erin and her mom are struggling to make ends meet), and more. I liked all of these side stories, especially when Erin meets two very cute boys in one night (one is a great match, and the other is a tad younger — okay super young — but offers her some funny, sweet, cute commentary on life) and orders the most ridiculous virgin drink ever at a club. (I laughed out loud.) All of these characters are in situations where they need advice but Erin is usually the one to dispense it, and when an email from one of her friends shows up in her Miss Fortune Cookie mailbox, she feels even more helpless.
All of this leads to some wacky adventures but it also forces the characters to stand up for themselves and what they really want.
As someone who gives a lot of advice herself, I really understood Erin’s frequent dilemma — that blurry line between giving sound advice to someone and letting them go and figure it out on their own. It’s so difficult especially when all you want is for the people in your life to be happy and do what’s best for them. Then there’s the other possibility: the advice you give is taken and things start to fall apart. What happens then?
Miss Fortune Cookie was a great mix of fun and realistic moments and most of all, I enjoyed its focus on strong female friendships, prep for college, and finding the bravery to make the right decisions for yourself.