Life is always throwing curveballs at Olivia, but she has the grit and wherewithal to tolerate what life has to offer. She drops out of Harvard, much to her father’s chagrin, to pursue a career as a burlesque dancer. She retires a wealthy woman at forty, meets a hunky ski instructor and is ready to settle into the next chapter of her life – until she learns that her estranged father has died, and Olivia has been named in his will.
So begins the story of Choosing Sophie, a story that attempts to explore adoption and baseball. Indeed, it is an odd coupling, but is it a good one?
The thrust of the story emerges at the will proceedings. There, Olivia learns that she has inherited part ownership of her father’s minor league baseball team, whose record rivals The Bad News Bears. Furthermore, she can earn full ownership if “she closes the loop.” What her cranky father meant by this clause becomes clear when Sophie, the daughter that Olivia gave up for adoption twenty years before, also attends the will proceedings, wanting to know more about her “bio mom.”
Olivia is excited yet apprehensive about having her daughter in her life, but she embraces all these curveballs with tremendous gusto. Sophie opts to move into Olivia’s Manhattan apartment so they can learn more about each other – and consequently fulfill the “close the loop” clause from the will. Readers might expect some setbacks and tension as Sophie and Olivia become acquainted, but their ride is mostly smooth as they focus their energy on revitalizing the near-dead baseball team. Olivia’s cousin and current team management fight the women at every turn, but the dynamic duo always stays a step ahead, eventually turning the team around from worst to first.
The theme of adoption is a strong one in Choosing Sophie. Sophie’s parents are part of the story, but only in the backseat. It seems unrealistic to me that they would so willingly give up their roles as “primary” parents so that Sophie can forge a relationship with Olivia. They are so flexible with the whole arrangement, and I constantly was scratching my head about this adoption “triad.” It seems very contrived and far from the truth.
The baseball element to the story is fun. The women are inventive in their attempts to turn the team around, including dressing them in raspberry-colored jerseys. It is not, however, at the comedic level of Major League. One could hope that a Charlie Sheen-like character would emerge to move the story along, but it does not happen. The baseball storyline has a lot of potential, but like the entire book, it strikes out.
I cannot enthusiastically recommend Choosing Sophie to anyone because the book has many flaws. The characters are not developed appropriately, the adoption theme is trite, and the baseball side of the story is not up to snuff. To compound matters, the ending is unoriginal. All in all, the book does not even deliver a base hit for this reader.