Title: Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
My Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)
A chance encounter with someone you think could be your soulmate holds an almost magical charm. If your mind lingers on it long enough, your imagination will start churning out what-could-have-beens, coupled with a wish that the other person is thinking of you too. All you could do is punctuate it with longing sighs…or perhaps you could cram an ellipsis on it instead by posting a “Missed Connection” online.
Missed connections often crackle with the electric current of romantic possibility, but they may also be a way to reconnect with an old friend, to look for a relative you’ve lost touch with, or just to express gratitude to a stranger. Whatever its purpose is, one thing is clear: there’s really no stopping the mushrooming of these cyber messages in the bottle.
Confession: one of my guilty pleasures is spending a sizable amount of time reading missed connections online. I never fail to have my daily dose of fiction, so I think it wouldn’t hurt reading tidbits that happened in real life. They’re tale fragments that my writer side would consider ultimately fic-fodder, but my cheeseball side would think as sparks of hope of connecting in a bleak world wrapped in a general atmosphere of pessimism and selfish disengagement. They’re like fairytales-in-making, and there’s really no telling if they’re going to end up with a happy-ever-after or just stay unfinished forever.
Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found is one “picture book” I really treasure. It contains a bunch of missed connections from various online sites, this time partnered with paintings of the award-winning illustrator Sophie Blackall.
To say that Blackall’s artwork fully captures the weight of every missed connection is an understatement. Through strokes of Chinese ink and water color, she added quirky, wistful, poignant, comical, and tender flavors to the posts.
But what I love the most about this book is that most of the time, Blackall managed to insert her own version of “what if” into each message. This was done not through illustrating scenes of the possible future, but by merely depicting the exact moment boxed within the four corners of that missed connection. My favorite in this verse would be the “I Wish I Could See Your Head” one, where Blackall drew a girl with the parts of her head portrayed as if it were in a clinic poster. Cradled in the cranium section is an unmade bed with two pillows, suggestive that it had two occupants not so long ago. I think it’s cleverly peculiar, how Blackall supplied an answer of some sort to post writer who wished he could see inside the beautiful stranger’s mind.
Oh, and I like the fact that Blackall didn’t bother to go Grammar Nazi on all posts. The misspellings and misplaced punctuations are kept where they originally are, and I think it added to the credibility and reality of the missed connections.
Anyway, describing all my favorite illustrations would just “spoil” it for you; I want you guys to check out the illustrations yourselves. In all honesty, words can’t equate to the paintings’ exquisiteness. In fact, seeing them kind of rekindled the frustrated painter in me. I’ve gone back to painting recently, and I make it a point to always make time for this artistic endeavor. I’ve also scribbled a new item on my bucket list after finishing the book: to write and illustrate a book for my future kids. :)
It’s overall a book worthy of appreciation and the time you’ll spent flicking through it. “If a picture is worth a thousand words,” Ilene Beckerman says, “Sophie Blackall has created a bookstore you’ll fall in love with.” I couldn’t agree more.