If you’re looking to see the beauty in the world, other people, and yourself, this is the right book. A beautiful tale of the “poor little rich girl” who is transformed after her second cocaine arrest by a sentence to work in an Ugandan orphanage. Tolerated by her parents and loved by the family’s lawyer, Pembroke, Sophie could be a cardboard cutout of other characters we’ve met before. She’s not, though. She’s such a delight, too.
Sophie is predictably intolerable in the beginning, but the seeds of change are planted quickly as we understand the circumstances that made Sophie like this. Into this woman with no regard for herself or anyone else. She is full of herself, yet devoid of self-esteem. Her value, in her own eyes, is only in her ability to control others and keep herself up to the exacting L.A. standards of beauty and thinness.
The characters she meets in Uganda are authentic and nicely fleshed out. They could have been too precious, but the author always manages to keep them from crossing over into caricature. They represent all the parts of Sophie where she KNOWS she’s lacking and are her touchstones on her journey to herself. The redeeming qualities soon multiply as she’s forced to face the darkest sides of humanity while still finding joy in herself and in others without needed anything from them in return.
So many lessons to consider here. Lessons you don’t have to move to Uganda to learn, of course.
The love interest, Dingane, is a beautiful man and holds the appropriate mirror up to Sophie so the tale can proceed. There is subtle passion, almost Victorian in its nature. This is a very chaste love story, so give it to a teenager with no reservations. Doing so might open up some wonderful dialogue, which anyone who knows a teen knows is a challenge. As a thirty-something who reads much racier books on a regular basis, I can assure you all the tingles are there. Highly satisfying.
Fisher Amelie has written a compulsively readable, touching, rarely mellowdramatic tale of finding oneself in the most dire of circumstances. Of seeing enemies as obstacles, not endings. Of rebirth and redemption. Of loss. Of love. Of knowing there is, indeed, a time for every purpose under heaven.
Find Fisher Amelie on the interwebs…