By Lauren Bjorkman
Available now from Henry Holt (Macmillan)
Erin attends the prestigious Lowell High School, along with her best friends Mei and Linny. In just a few days they'll know which colleges they got in to, but the girls aren't sure where they want to go. Then Mei writes to advice blogger Miss Fortune Cookie and decides to follow her advice. But Erin is secretly Miss Fortune Cookie and not certain she gave her friend the best counsel.
I really enjoyed MISS FORTUNE COOKIE. Erin is a terrific main character. She jumps to conclusions, interferes in other people's business, and struggles with her own life dilemmas just as much as the people who write to her. At the same time, she's very loyal to her friends and family and almost everyone her age struggles with knowing themselves. And I loved the equations she came up with to describe the situations she finds herself in.
The cultural aspect of MISS FORTUNE COOKIE adds a lot of interest to what could be a standard tale of senior year angst and hijinks. Erin is white but was born in China and lived there for several years, before being raised in San Francisco's Chinatown. She struggles with reconciling her culture to what people expect of her based on her appearance. She also struggles with believing that her friends truly accept her as she is. There's some wonderful plot involving just how untrustworthy memory can be.
Lauren Bjorkman folds a bit of nonfiction in to the mix, as a real-life counter protest of the vile Westboro Baptist Church at Lowell happens during the course of the novel. Obviously, in MISS FORTUNE COOKIE it is fictionalized since the main characters are heavily involved. I thought it was an interesting touch, but I'm not sure it meshed well with the themes of MISS FORTUNE COOKIE. I can't say that I entirely mind a book stalling the story a little to say that hate is bad and God loves everyone, however. It's a point that needs to be made repeatedly.
MISS FORTUNE COOKIE will appeal to contemporary fans who like stories of female friendship with a touch of romance. All three of the girls have a love interest, and their romantic storylines ended up more realistic than I first expected. There's nothing particularly memorable about MISS FORTUNE COOKIE, but it does have an intriguing setting and charm.