Needing to work, she tries her hand at waitressing but is quickly demoted to kitchen duty after she spills shrimp scampi all over a customer. It's here, in the kitchen, where she discovers she's a really good baker and begins thinking about opening up her own bakery. When not working, she spends time volunteering with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and is assigned a "Little Sister" who enjoys cutting herself and starting fires. On top of all this, she's caught the eye of a local actor who can't make up his mind if he wants to be with her or not.
Okay. So it sounds totally like chick lit, I know. But it's also so much more than that. It's funny and sad at the same time. For instance, there is one part, towards the end of the book where Sophie finally decides to part with her husbands clothes that she's been carrying around in boxes for the last year. She packs them all up in his suitcases and takes them to Goodwill. When she arrives, seeing that Goodwill is closed, she leaves them behind the building.
A few hours later she receives a call from a man at a rest stop a few miles from her home. He had located her through the name in the suitcases, which had been stolen from behind the Goodwill and were now at the rest stop. When Sophie arrives, she finds her husbands suitcases had been sliced open. The would be thieves, apparently not excited by the contents, had left it all there to blow around the rest stop. I just found it heartbreaking to picture this poor woman chasing her dead husbands clothes around a seedy rest stop.
I could relate to Sophie in so many ways. There is one passage in the book that I've saved and read over and over:
"The funny thing about rock bottom is there's stuff underneath it. You think, This is it: I'm at the bottom now. It's all uphill from here! Then you discover the escalator goes down one more floor to another level of bargain-basement junk."
Um....you could say I've felt that way. Recently.
After I read this book, I looked up some reviews on Goodreads to see what other people had to say about it. A lot of people liked it but thought that the ending was too neat and tidy and happily-ever-after. While I'll agree that all the loose ends were tied up a bit too nicely for my liking, I don't necessarily feel the ending was fairy tale. I don't want to give it all away, but I will say that by the end of the book Sophie still isn't completely sure of her relationship with sexy actor man, and her relationship with her mother in law changes in a way that could hardly be considered ideal. So, yes, she's in a happier place a mere year after her husbands death, but she had to work to get to that happy place. Which was what I loved so much about her. I hate it when characters just sit back and repeatedly let bad things happen to them.As I mentioned before, this book was recommended to me by a reader (thanks so much Shannon!) and I'm so thankful it was because I probably wouldn't have picked it up on my own. I'm certain I would have looked at the cover and misjudged it as just chick lit, which is generally a category of books I can't quite get into. And I would have been missing out because this is probably one of my Top Ten favorite books of all time.