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November 17, 2012

Miss Fortune Cookie Book with Excerpt

BB Book Tours
Thanks for stopping by for the

Miss Fortune Cookie Book Blitz

presented by The Bookish Brunette!

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.

 Blitz Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman
Publication Date:  November 13, 2012
Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

 

To be fair, most people have trouble lying to Mrs. Liu. Her eyes bore right through your skull and read your thoughts as if you accidentally uploaded them onto Facebook. It’s her superpower.

Linny stood up to offer her seat to Mrs. Liu. “Mr. F assigned loads of homework over the weekend. He wants us in top shape for the AP test.”

Mrs. Liu ignored the seat. She had just turned forty and didn’t appreciate the senior-citizen treatment. “Very good. Homework make you smart.”

“Ma, please sit down. Ni shi lao.” That means you are the elder, a show of respect. It also means you are old.

“I am comfortable,” Mrs. Liu said.

Mei continued arguing politely. Though most Chinese immigrants to San Francisco speak Cantonese, a dialect common in the south of China, Mrs. Liu emigrated from the north, where they speak Mandarin. I was fluent enough to follow their conversation.

Ma, ni zuo.” Ma, just sit.

Gaosu wo ta de mingzi.Tell me his name.

Before they resolved anything, the driver pulled into the stop by Mrs. Liu’s restaurant, and we all got off. Hay Fat occupies a prominent street corner in Chinatown. Mrs. Liu’s heightened culinary sensibility has turned it into a legend, luring in the more adventurous tourists and fussy locals. She serves authentic dishes with ingredients such as fermented bean paste, whole fish with eyeballs intact, and lotus. Her menu also includes beef broccoli in case people with less sophisticated palates wander in by mistake.

We entered the kitchen through the alley. The dinner rush had yet to begin, which meant we had the place to ourselves. After setting me up with the grater and Mei with the bacon to steam, Mrs. Liu tossed a handful of sesame seeds into sizzling oil at the bottom of the wok. I closed my eyes to better appreciate the scrumptious smell.

“What should I do?” Linny asked. I looked at her appraisingly, wondering about her secret. Not that we could talk here in the kitchen.

Mrs. Liu handed her a bowl. “Cut mushrooms. Very small pieces.”

I consider Hay Fat my second home. Mom and Mrs. Liu met when Mei and I were in preschool and have been good friends ever since. We live one floor below them in an apartment a few blocks from here in a quieter part of Chinatown. Mrs. Liu has always welcomed me into her kitchen, even during that black year when Mei and I barely spoke.

What I know of her life before America comes through Mom. Twenty-three years ago, Mrs. Liu studied cooking at a special school in China that trains workers for American restaurants. After finishing the program, she immigrated to San Francisco, where she met Mei’s dad. He soon left her, and she has remained single ever since. Which could explain some of her gruffness.

“No lollygagging,” Mrs. Liu said. The cloth she wore over her hair fell askew, and my fingers itched to straighten it. I didn’t stop grating for a second, though, because sometimes when I slack off from a job she’s given me, she’ll pinch my arm. Not hard, but still.

Linny held out her cutting board for inspection. “Are these pieces small enough?”

Mrs. Liu took the board and tossed the mushrooms into the wok. “Almost. Watch. This is secret part. Very important. Not in recipe.”

Smoke rose from the hot metal. While Mrs. Liu stirred up a storm, I took the chance to rest my aching muscles. As I was standing there, I noticed that the photographs hanging over the sink had been dusted recently. One showed four-year-old Mei holding a pen and scroll, a minischolar. Next to it hung a picture of me dressed as a sunflower for our preschool play.

The turnip cakes were for a party next week, an event to celebrate Mei’s acceptance into Harvard. Mrs. Liu had planned it out a long time ago. I think she decided on which dishes to serve before Mei started high school. Last July, she bought boxes of scarlet and black decorations. She mailed the invitations a month ago. Harvard’s acceptance emails, though, wouldn’t go out until tomorrow, April 1, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Now Mei just had to get in.

The three of us attend Lowell, a high school for academic types—nerds in the best sense—a rare public school that students compete to get into. At Lowell, we have a popular crowd, hipsters, and partiers like everywhere else, but we worry more about SAT percentiles and college choices than our counterparts. For us, the first of April is bigger than the Academy Awards. Tomorrow, hopes would be mangled and dreams decapitated.

Mrs. Liu spun around to face Mei. “Meihua! That boy on bus. Shi bu shi boyfriend?”

Meihua blinked. “He’s not, Ma.”

Linny and I exchanged glances.

full denial = a lie of omission × 10 3

Mei’s sincere lie had gone bad, turned slimy and evil smelling like leftovers jammed to the back of the fridge behind the sauce jars.

“The stove!” Linny yelled.

Flames shot upward. Mrs. Liu calmly fetched a small broom and beat out the fire in three precise strokes. She’s efficient like that. “You are young. You cannot know love.”

Except Romeo and Juliet were young, and though Darren had not declared his devotion publicly from the alley or climbed a trellis to the window leading to Mei’s bedchamber, Romeo had nothing on him when it came to passion. I’d seen more of that than I cared to, in fact.

Mei laid the steamed bacon on a clean bamboo chopping block and commenced mincing it into molecule-sized bits. Mrs. Liu waved her spatula. “Harvard most important thing. Future more valuable than useless boy. You tell me, Erin. Who is boy?”

My hand flew across the grater, and the mound of turnips grew. “The boy on Muni?”

Mrs. Liu growled with exasperation. “The Master say give elder no reason for anxiety.”

Mei ducked her head. “You’re right, Ma.”

“I am not right,” Mrs. Liu barked. “The Master is right.” By the Master, she meant Confucius, the spiritual grandfather of China, born more than five hundred years before Jesus. Arguing against the Master would be futile. The main dinner chef arrived, and Mrs. Liu dismissed us. “Skedaddle. Do homework. Good-bye.”

Grateful for the reprieve, I slipped out of my apron. Mei planted her feet by the stove and lifted her chin. She looked exactly like she used to long ago when we shoved cooked rice and fruit under the stove to feed the hungry ghost that lived there: scared but determined. She turned to Linny and me. “I’m staying to help Ma. Wait for me.”

Which meant Linny and I would get a little time alone and she could finally tell me what she started to say on Muni.

About the Author:

 

I am the author of two YA novels, MY INVENTED LIFE and MISS FORTUNE COOKIE. I also contributed a short story to the anthology THE FIRST TIME.

Though I grew up on a sail boat and loved traveling the world as a kid, I’m still afraid of the ocean. I much prefer other modes of transportation these days–plane, train, or car. Walking is best.

I love books with multi-faceted, intriguing characters. The best one make me laugh, cry, and turn the pages long past my bed time.

When I’m not reading or writing, I spend time with family and friends, talking about everything under the sun. Add in some good food to the mix, top it off with chocolate, and I’m truly happy.

 Connect with the Author:  Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Available for Purchase:
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